While crowds gathered at the door of the City East District official, the respendantly dressed man and his wife pushed a bag into the hands of the kind-hearted old monk. “This one is grateful that Great Master is willing to exorcise our fu. Although these are merely worldly possessions, Great Master may find them useful when you want to build a golden Buddha.”
 Dōng yuánwài ( 东员外 ) – This is a type of minister or official whose rank is bought (usually the rich people ‘buy’ the t.i.tle) but they do not have authority like appointed ministers. Their position at times means that they act as landlords and/or as a local overseer.
 Golden Buddha – statues of Buddha covered in/made out of gold, made to show off wealth. The grander the Buddha, the grander the temple.
That monk had a head full of white, eyebrows long and wispy, hands held together [in acknowledgement]. “Amitabha.”
A crowd of people had gathered, joining in the fun, as they gossipped and pointed at the monk, who was the famous Great Master Hui Jue, said to know both the past and the future. He’d only arrived in the capital a few days prior and was already heralded for often helping the wealthy with prayers and exorcisms, which appeared to be extremely effective.
After Great Master Hui Jue received the bag, he excused himself from everyone and walked away alone, then turned away from the busy street into a dark and narrow alleyway where there was a small house. He walked up to the door and knocked, and a child soon opened the door and bade him to enter.
After Hui Jue entered the courtyard, the small disciple reported, “Master, a few guests have arrived.”
“Guests?” The monk was surprised, after all, he didn’t know many people in the capital. Although he didn’t understand, he still entered with a calm expression.
In the hall stood a young girl in green, dressed like a servant. That servant girl in green smiled when she saw him. Hui Jue stared blankly, then heard a smooth voice come from behind the servant girl, “Great Master.”
Hui Jue looked over and saw the silhouette of a girl emerge from the shadows. The servant girl in green stepped aside. As light shone through, the silhouette soon revealed its features.
This was a fresh young lady, about the same age as the servant girl in green. She wore a red mandarin collared top that was embroidered with swastikas in white thread and a skirt decorated with flowers, so good-looking even the shadows couldn’t conceal it. She smiled slightly at Hui Jue, as if facing a friend of many years, a pair of slightly raised eyes bright and moist, yet they inexplicably gave a sense that no one could see through her.
 Wan zi bu duan tou ( 万字不断头纹 ) : refers to a specific type of repeating pattern.
“This young miss is…?” Hui Jue asked in a low voice, the girl in front of him was unfamiliar to him in every way.
“Although Great Master doesn’t know me, I’ve long heard of Great Master’s famous deeds. Today, I’ve come to ask Great Master about my birthdate characters,” she said.
“Miss is still young, why come alone to ask for a divination?” Hui Jue asked.
“Life is rough, the road ahead unknown.” Jiang Ruan only spoke these seven words.
Hui Jue stared blankly, thought for a while, and said, “Then, Miss, please write your birthdate characters.”
Jiang Ruan picked up the brush and began writing.
When she lifted the brush, Hui Jue was also quietly observing her. Looking at this young lady with such excellent mannerisms, she must be some wealthy family’s young miss. Therefore upon considering this pair when they first arrived, this young miss and the servant at her side, after a quick moment he had made a decision [to swindle her]. However, while he still couldn’t quite ascertain her intentions, he could see that there was a bit of an evil aura in her expression.
Jiang Ruan pushed the finished paper with her birthdate characters towards Hui Jue. “Great Master please take a look.”
Hui Jue spread the paper, lifted his prayer beads from his neck without a word. After an hour, his brows gradually furrowed.
With Lu Zhu watching, Jiang Ruan smilingly asked, “Great Master, what are your thoughts?”
Hui Jue gazed at Jiang Ruan unspeaking for a while, shook his head, then let out a heavy sigh.
“Great Master can say.” In contrast to his distressed mien, Jiang Ruan instead looked carefree, as if the divination calculations were being done for someone else.
Hui Jue said, “Miss’ future is ominous. I’m afraid – I’m afraid you bear the sign of the cursed star.”
“Cursed star?” While Jiang Ruan chewed over these three words, Hui Jue lowered his brows, looking like a compa.s.sionate bodhisattva. He then heard Jiang Ruan say, “Great Master sees clearly, I am indeed born under the cursed star. My mother died like this in front of my eyes, my elder brother is missing, and there’s no end to strange happenings in my household.”
Her voice was dispirited, sorrowful. Hui Jue opened his mouth to speak, “Though I’ve said this, Miss doesn’t need to worry, this old monk has a way to rewrite your fate. Miss, take heart, this old monk will visit your household in a few days and discuss it with your relatives.”
“Why would Great Master help me?” Jiang Ruan asked.
Hui Jue lowered his head, hands clasped, “Amitabha, compa.s.sion is the responsibility of all Buddhist monks.”
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“Great Master is truly kind, not all monks are like Great Master. For instance, I have heard stories that a monk from Yuzhou, under the banner of an eminent monk, has been swindling others, and has ama.s.sed quite the sum.”
“If you follow my orders, I guarantee that you won’t have to worry about food or clothing for a lifetime, your son will receive treatment from the best physicians, and you also won’t have to worry about paying for the rare medicine. Finally, you won’t have to travel everywhere, living in fear.” Her charming eyes were astonishing, her words bewitching. “You will be revered by thousands, have wealth beyond measure and long-term safety. You will become the most eminent monk, you will become the State Preceptor.”
Hui Jue was almost taken in by her words, but he hadn’t spent those years of deception in vain, in this aspect he was particularly sensitive. He very quickly regained his senses and said, “Miss, you’re taking this old monk for a joke. I don’t know what young miss really came for, but I am only an ordinary monk, not worthy of the t.i.tle of eminent monk, and am helpless in many things.”
Jiang Ruan calmly looked at him and smilingly said, “Know the past, know the future? Those are all in the past, it seems like I still need to prove something to you.”.”
Hui Jue said nothing.
“Tonight, ‘mischievous ghosts’ will strike at the Prefectural Magistrate’s fu. Tomorrow morning, they will definitely invite you to visit,” Jiang Ruan said.
Hui Jue couldn’t believe his ears. “Miss?”
“It doesn’t matter whether you believe me or not. If you want to save your son, then do as I say,” Jiang Ruan said. “Ten days later is the longevity birthday celebration of Old Madame of Minister Jiang’s fu. I want you to go there a day before and pray for her good fortune, and coincidentally find that there are evil spirits present because the fu’s Second Young Miss is bearing the sign of the cursed star.” She smiled thinly. “Great Master is very skilled, there’s no need for me to say more.”
“How are you so sure I will come on that day?” Hui Jue couldn’t help but ask.
Jiang Ruan stood up. “Didn’t I say earlier, know the past, know the future?” With her back to the light, she had a gentle expression, beautiful face, and bright red clothing, yet it made others feel cold. She was really a devil hiding beneath a beautiful face, a demonic temptress.
Jiang Ruan brought the servant girl to the door, then suddenly had a thought and turned to say, “I forgot to mention, my name is Jiang Ruan, the eldest di daughter of the capital’s Jiang family.”
Leaving the dark alleyway, Lu Zhu looked at Jiang Ruan’s expression and cautiously stated, “Miss is certain that monk will come in ten days?”
“Of course he’ll come.” Hui Jue treated his son as preciously as his own life. Every spring, his son’s condition was aggravated by the weather. In her past life, Xuan Li had used this weakness and lured Hui Jue to his side by offering to help him cure his son’s disease in a few years, and thus, earned the man’s loyalty. Hui Jue was indeed talented- he followed Xuan Li to become the State Preceptor, and cooked up many schemes for Eighth Prince.
In this life, she would rather sow discord, taking this opportunity before Xuan Li could claim Hui Jue for his own use.
It was now the Spring Festival, and Hui Jue considered his son’s situation. After reflecting on her words, it was hard to be unmoved.
Everyone in the world had their soft spots, which, once found, could be used to handle them at will. Come to think of it, it was thanks to Xuan Li in her past life, who in order to mold her into a competent p.a.w.n told her all these secrets without reservation. Otherwise it’s hard to imagine how difficult it would be to conquer such sly people, like Hui Jue.
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