Pi Xiu’s words about being motherless, born from the Heavens, and raised by nature, caused the dining hall to be engulfed in complete silence.
For a moment, no one dared to speak.

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Wen Xi wanted to laugh, but for his own sake, and in order to avoid ‘dying’ again, he restrained himself the best he could.
Wen Xi merely feigned composure as he leaned on Pi Xiu.
As he fanned the beast sitting next to him, Wen Xi said to the little stutterer: “You’ve misunderstood.
Could you bring me a bowl and a pair of chopsticks?”

“Bring the willow wood ones.” Pi Xiu turned his head and instructed the young boy.

Even ghosts can eat food served on plates made from wood of a thousand-year-old willow tree.

Pi Xiu then grasped Wen Xi’s hand and pulled it close to his eyes.
Thanks to the soul-calming medicine, Wen Xi’s previously transparent ‘body’ became opaque, resembling the appearance of a normal human being.

As he allowed Pi Xiu to hold his hand, Wen Xi said: “Although the medicine was excessively bitter, I feel a lot more comfortable after drinking it.”

As he released Wen Xi’s hand, Pi Xiu asked: “Where’s the broken jade statue?”

“In my sleeve.” Wen Xi said, and then asked: “Do you want me to take it out?”

Pi Xiu shook his head: “No, keep it.”

Right at that moment, the young stutterer came back with the wooden willow bowl and a pair of chopsticks for Wen Xi.
After placing them in front of Wen Xi, the young boy could finally sit down to eat.
Every bite he took was similar to that of a cat eating.
Every time he took a bite, the young boy would glance towards Wen Xi, who was sitting next to Pi Xiu.
At one point, the young boy accidentally met Wen Xi’s gaze.
The young boy hurried to lower his head and eat a mouthful of rice while feigning disinterest.
Upon seeing this, Wen Xi wanted to laugh.

Since Mr.
Pi was eating vegetarian food, Wen Xi had to join him and eat the vegetarian food as well.

However, after taking two bites, Wen Xi couldn’t help but ask: “What are they eating?”

“Do you want to eat the same thing as them?” Mr.
Pi asked rhetorically.

Wen Xi, who was presenting himself as a reserved man, didn’t reply.
Pi Xiu, on the other hand, wasn’t really in a hurry for the reply, and took a mouthful of onions mixed with tofu.
However, Pi Xiu couldn’t help but think that the food lacked a bit of meaty flavor.

“You’re welcome to eat that kind of food anytime.” Pi Xiu then put down his chopsticks and looked at Wen Xi.
“Of course, that is only if you remember whether you saw ‘him’, and what kind of relationship you had with ‘him’.
If you can do that, not only these types of dishes, but anything you want to eat, I’ll have them cook it for you.”

Wen Xi frowned, pitifully covered his head, and said: “But I really can’t remember.”

“Then starve.
You’re a ghost anyway, and it’s not like you can starve to death.” After wiping his mouth, Pi Xiu took Wen Xi by the arm and dragged him up.
“I’ll be upstairs.
As for you guys, finish eating and then clean everything up.
We’ll start preparing for the night market later in the evening.”

“Boss.” A young man sitting to the left of Pi Xiu suddenly stood up and said: “Some guests are coming to visit you tomorrow.”

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After taking a step, Pi Xiu waved his hand and said: “Understood.”

After seeing the Boss and the Boss’s ‘ghost wife’ going upstairs, the young boy finally had the courage to ask Hou Er: “H-hou Er, w-what’s the re-relationship be-between B-boss and th-that g-ghost?”

“Boss keeps him locked in a room day after day without letting him out.
What kind of relationship do you think that is?” The Monkey Spirit laughed evilly, lowered his voice, and said: “Of course it’s a ‘hide the mistress in a house of gold1’ kind of relationship.”

The young boy was stunned: “W-what do-do you m-mean by h-hiding a mis-mistress in a, a g-golden h-house?”

“You really don’t know? Didn’t the Boss give you books for you to learn?” Hou Er’s face showed disdain: “Not only do you stutter, but your brain doesn’t seem to work either.”

At that instant, the young boy’s face suddenly turned pale.

“”

“If you’re done eating, hurry up and go back to work!”

A sudden severe shout made Hou Er swallow the words he wanted to say next.
When he looked at the man who had just scolded him, and saw his handsome scarred face looking grim, Hou Er immediately shuddered and didn’t dare to refute.

Upstairs, Wen Xi laid down in his favorite position to watch TV.
Pi Xiu, on the other hand, took off his clothes and went to take a bath.
When he came out of the bath, he saw the ghost Scholar holding the jade Guanyin statue he had given him today.
However, the Scholar’s expression looked a little strange.

“What is it? Do you like this broken thing I gave you that much?” Pi Xiu, still bare-chested, approached Wen Xi.
After dropping the towel behind the sofa, he took the jade statue from Wen Xi’s hands to examine it.
However, he couldn’t find anything special about it.

Wen Xi sat on the bed and smiled falsely at Mr.
Pi: “This is the first item you have given me, of course I like it.”

“Sweet talker.” Pi Xiu sneered and didn’t believe him at all.

Wen Xi didn’t get angry either.
As he held Pi Xiu’s hand, Wen Xi leaned over, in order to obediently act as Pi Xiu’s ice pillow.

“Are all the people from downstairs monsters like you? Are none of them Human?” Wen Xi bowed his head and asked.
“I saw that several of them had long, humped hands, and they looked like monkeys as well.
Are they Monkey Spirits?”

“Mm-hmm.” Pi Xiu didn’t care to deny it.
As he held Wen Xi with one hand, with the other he took the remote and changed the Tv channel.
Then, he lazily added: “There are five Monkey Spirits working as waiters.
They’re called Hou Yi, Hou Er, Hou San, Hou Si, and Hou Wu2.
The little stutter that gave you medicine is also a waiter.”

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Wen Xi was puzzled: “Is the little stutter also a Monkey Spirit? I couldn’t tell.”

“He’s not.
He’s a Broom Spirit.” Pi Xiu pointed to a broom left in a corner and said: “He was a broom like that, until he transformed into a human form a few years ago.
He’s a young spirit, and probably suffered a bit during the process of transformation, which can explain why he stutters.”

“”

Wen Xi wondered: “Why did you take in a Broom Spirit?”

‘He doesn’t seem to be very fortunate.
Besides, this beast has a restaurant, and he should pay more attention to the good omens of feng shui.
How can it be a good omen to pick up a Broom Spirit?’

“Why not?” Pi Xiu looked at Wen Xi and said: “He can clean the entire restaurant by himself, and the spells he knows in his original form are far better than a vacuum cleaner.
Besides, he eats little, and doesn’t do much.
If I hadn’t taken him in, he would have suffered.”

Wen Xi nodded slightly: “Makes sense.”

“Do you think the foundation of this Broom Spirit is ominous?” Pi Xiu raised his eyebrows and said: “You humans are always like this, prejudiced.”

Wen Xi didn’t care about Pi Xiu’s words, and instead, asked: “I saw that there were three other people.
What kind of spirit is the accountant, who called you as we were leaving?”

“He’s an Abacus Spirit.” Pi Xiu said.
“As for the other two, the one with the scar on his face is a Merman, Ren Jiao.
The not so good-looking one is a Fox, Qiu Fu, my chef.”

Wen Xi looked at Pi Xiu and asked: “Why are you willing to tell me all this? Aren’t you curious why I’m asking so many questions?”

Sneering, Pi Xiu stretched out a hand to pinch Wen Xi’s chin and shook it: “Since you have behaved so obediently today, I don’t mind replying to all of your questions.
Besides, it’s not like you can do anything even after knowing.
What should I be afraid of?”

“In any case, I really haven’t ever seen the Taotie you’re always referring to.
Could it be that you have made a mistake?” Wen Xi lowered his head and softened the tone of his voice.
“I’m just an ordinary person, how could I possibly be familiar with a legendary beast?”

Pi Xiu raised his eyebrows: “Didn’t you say before that your memory was all messed up and you couldn’t remember anything? How come you now can remember not knowing him?”

Speechless, Wen Xi thought, ‘Why is this beast acting so smart right now? Didn’t he play dumb before, when he said he had no mother, unaware of what the young stutterer actually meant by ‘madam’?’

Since his chin was pulled up by the beast, Wen Xi couldn’t avoid looking directly into Pi Xiu’s yellow eyes.
At that moment, a bit of fear spread through Wen Xi’s heart yet again.

“I have never seen any ordinary people being sealed in a jar to prevent them from being able to reincarnate after death.
Moreover, even a heavy sandalwood incense, and a ghost-sealing spell was used on you.
These two things combined prevented your soul from scattering.”

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Wen Xi abruptly turned his head to free himself from Pi Xiu’s grip.
While rubbing his chin, Wen Xi replied: “It’s just that my family was hit by a catastrophe, and I just so happened to suffer along with it.”

“I don’t think it was an ordinary catastrophe, was it?” Pi Xiu pulled the white clothes that Wen Xi was wearing and said: “White linen clothes, are you mourning for your family?”

Wen Xi fell silent.

“I’m not interested in your life when you were alive, I just want to know what type of connection you have with Taotie.” Pi Xiu sneered.
“He’s not kind enough to take care of the soul of a ghost who died tragically.”

“And you? What connection do you have with him?” Wen Xi looked at Pi Xiu and said: “I’m not lying.
I really have no idea who he is, nor have I ever seen him.
I have no memories of being familiar to someone like him at all.”

“What connection do I have with him?” Pi Xiu laughed and said with a harsh voice: “I’m his creditor!”

Wen Xi was surprised to hear the word ‘creditor’.
As he looked at Pi Xiu, Wen Xi muttered: “It’s natural to want to be paid back, but what does that have to do with me? Why don’t you go find him, instead of holding me captive?”

When Wen Xi woke up inside the restaurant for the first time, he made a scene.
He attempted to run downstairs and escape.
However, at that time, Wen Xi’s soul was so weak that he couldn’t even push aside the beaded curtain at the door.
Now, he couldn’t even go anywhere without this beast’s permission.

“Holding you captive?” Pi Xiu scolded him: “You had just woken up, and your soul was still very weak.
If I had let you out, even the slightest ray of sunlight would have made you disappear.”

Wen Xi froze and said: “Then, I won’t be able to leave for the rest of my life?”

“The Taotie never leaves his scent on other people for no reason.
If you stay here, he will come to find you sooner or later.” Pi Xiu said lightly.
“When he comes, I will help you reincarnate.
After reincarnating, you won’t have to fear the sunshine anymore.”

‘Besides, I can also earn the merits of sending an old ghost to reincarnate.
It’s like killing two birds with one stone.’

Wen Xi leaned against Pi Xiu, and remained silent for a long time before he dared to ask: “Will it hurt to reincarnate?”

Pi Xiu: “I don’t know.
I’ve never been reincarnated.”

‘It’s just… I have to consider where I can find a suitable ice pillow after this ghost’s reincarnation.
This ghost Scholar really suits my tastes, but it’s a shame that he isn’t a monster, and instead, is the ghost of a human who wants to be reincarnated.’

Wen Xi: “You said my bones were inside the jar, right? Where’s the jar now?”

“You want to know?” Pi Xiu picked up a strand of Wen Xi’s long hair and softly pulled at it.
“I can’t tell you.
In case Taotie comes to try to steal the jar and run away with it, I have to make sure I don’t lose you or my chance to get my treasures back.”

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‘I’m not going to risk losing such treasure.’

“Just now, your accountant said that there will be guests coming to visit you.
Do they know Taotie as well?” Wen Xi asked.

“Yes.
When they’re here, you will come with me to meet them.”

Pi Xiu played with Wen Xi’s white hand, squeezing the soft and delicate skin.
At first glance, it looked like the hands of a young Gongzi who had never done any rough work.

Wen Xi was stunned: “Who are they?”

Pi Xiu: “They’re also Taotie’s creditors.
They have a portrait of the Taotie in their hands.
If you look at it, you may be able to recognize him.
However, the Taotie always takes a different appearance to meet people, so you probably won’t be able to recognize him either.”

“I don’t mind looking at the portrait, but wouldn’t it be better if I can recognize him?”

Pi Xiu smiled at Wen Xi’s words: “You don’t care what I will do to the Taotie? If he hadn’t helped you calm your soul, your soul would have scattered away the second I opened the jar.”

“But if I don’t do what you want, my soul will disappear as well.” Wen Xi laughed and leaned closer to Pi Xiu: “Can you give me a fan tomorrow? Otherwise, it would be too tiring to fan you with my hands.”

Pi Xiu said coldly: “Humans are really heartless.”

Wen Xi simply smiled and didn’t contradict him, allowing Pi Xiu to hug him tightly to cool him down.

The next day, when Wen Xi woke up, the first thing he saw as soon as he opened his eyes was a black and gold lacquered folding fan placed on the bedside table, with a jade pendant hanging from a red thread.

Wen Xi sat on the bed and played with it for a while, until he heard the sound of the bead curtain moving.

“A-are y-you aw-awake? B-boss t-told me to, to t-take y-you d-down.”

Footnotes

金屋藏娇 jīn wū cáng jiāo; Chinese idiom.
The idiom comes from the story of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty [141-87 BC] being so in love with a childhood sweetheart he wanted to build a magnificent palace for her to live in.
Later on, the idiom was used to refer to marrying a wife, or taking a concubine.
Also translated as: keep a mistress in a love nest/in a splendid abode. 猴 hóu = Monkey, 一二三四五 yī èr sān sì wǔ = 12345.

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