Mo Li’s fear of cats started when he was “nine years old”.
That summer was extremely hot, even in the mountains, with not a single breeze.
A family in the mountain had an emergency, and Qin Lu went out. Because it was too hot, he felt sorry for his apprentice, so he left him at home and didn’t let him go out to be exposed to the sun.
As soon as Old Qin walked away, Mo Li immediately moved out the tub, filled it up with several buckets of well water, closed the doors and windows, then turned into a fish swimming in the water.
——in such a hot day, not letting the fish play in the water was simply fatal.
The well water was very cold, soaking the whole body of a certain fish refreshed.
Because it was so comfortable in the summer afternoon, Mo Li unknowingly fell asleep.
There used to be an old monk who lived in the mountain temple and raised two cats. When the old monk passed away, these cats went looking for food nearby, and sometimes sleep on the beams of the temple. When he was taking water from the well, he didn’t notice that a cat had slipped into the house, squatting on the beam and watching the “fish” play intently.
Seeing that there was no movement in the water for a long time, the cat silently came down, jumped onto the edge of the barrel, stretched out its paws, and went to catch the fish.
The fish woke up with a start and avoided the cat’s claw in a daze.
The wild cat’s hunting skills were very proficient, and the fish was pawed out of the water in two or three strokes, falling to the ground.
Seeing the cat pounce, Mo Li immediately changed back.
By such a coincidence, Elder Lin also came back and when he entered the door, he saw a flood of water on the ground. The little apprentice was sitting on the ground naked with a few shallow cat claw marks on his body. The cat was still lying on the fat lotus root-like arm, licking back and forth, meowing suspiciously——where is the fish, where did such a big fish go?
Qin Lu was so frightened that he immediately drove the cat away. Fortunately, the wound was not serious. After applying the medicine, he found that the little apprentice actually took a bath in well water. He was so angry that he poured down a bowl of medicinal soup into his disciple and punished him by copying a bunch of medical books.
Mo Li didn’t understand many things at that time. After copying the book, he quietly peeped at the group of wild cats fishing by the stream.
A few fish were dizzy after being swiped and some cats refused to eat them, just patting and playing until the fish died before slowly filling their belly. It was truly terrible. Since then, Mo Li would walk around cats.
Later, Mo Li saw that there were many animals in the mountains that could catch fish and eat them, such as bears.
Humans also ate fish. In winter, every household would hang dry salted fish, but Mo Li didn’t feel anything for those since those fish didn’t look like him.
The big fish in the stream would also eat the small fish.
Mo Li had never seen a fish that looked exactly like him, so even when Elder Qin was stewing fish in front of him, he didn’t care.
But the cat was different since it was the one that actually harmed him.
The initial trauma was really hard to get rid of.
Of course, Physician Mo had another theory. It’s not that he’s afraid of cats, he just didn’t like raccoon slaves*.
“…you mean, when you touch a cat, you will get itchy all over, and you even need to drink medicine to get better?” Meng Qi looked Mo Li up and down, very suspicious of the authenticity of this sentence.
——Their reactions were so consistent which proved that they’re of the same race. The physician said he was itchy but why didn’t he feel itchy at all?
Physician Mo didn’t even move his eyebrows, acting very calm, because there were indeed people suffering from such a disease in the world, so what’s wrong with using it as an excuse?
Meng Qi also began to save face for himself. “When I raised that gerbil, I was very worried about its safety. The fences outside the courtyard are all tightly bound with thorns deliberately wound around them, all because I’m worried that wild cats and weasels will come in and harm it. For a while, I sat in the yard at night, opening my eyes as soon as I heard them and drive those guys away…”
Mo Li thought with a cold expression, the elixir is still logical, but the true face of that gerbil has yet to be verified!
Having said that, he’s already afraid of the cats. Physician Mo suspected that Meng Qi’s original form was also a fish, so he looked at Meng Qi probingly and just happened to meet the other’s eyes.
Both turned their heads, continuing to think that the other party’s justification was completely unbelievable.
Mo Li was wondering if Meng Qi was a fish or a mouse; Meng Qi added the mysterious “fear of cats” trait to that mysterious species because he didn’t know why he was afraid of cats.
Lingering and relying on people with more than enough wisdom, Chang’an*’s handsome things are the most recommended.
The literati of the Chu Dynasty loved raccoon slaves, regardless of high or low birth, and often held such a cat in their arms.
Meng Qi thought about it for a long time, but he didn’t understand the reason why he didn’t want to be approached by cats.
What a mystery!
When passing through Peinan County, Mo Li saw a large number of people entering the town. Guessing that it was General Liu’s subordinates, he simply went directly to Mount Silang instead of entering the city.
The sixty-mile mountain road was not close, nor was it far.
Originally, at the speed of the two people, they could have walked faster, but not far from Peinan County, there were more and more people on the mountain road including caravans going in the same direction as them to Mount Silang.
Fortunately, Mo Li had the foresight to find a thick robe for Meng Qi when he left, the kind that covered his head and face.
Otherwise, if he wore unlined clothing in this weather, he’d be stared at wherever they went. Mo Li didn’t like attracting too many people’s attention.
But it’s strange for so many people to be on the road. It’s the twelfth lunar month, business people should have rushed to deal with the goods and prepared to return home for the new year, so they wouldn’t continue running outside. Were these caravans all people from Mount Silang?
Mo Li inquired and found that it was true.
Mount Silang belonged to Qiuling County where there’s a powerful Si family. Counting two hundred years ago, there had produced famous generals and also served the Chen Dynasty before. When the world was in chaos at the end of the Chen Dynasty, the Si family built a dock fort on Mount Silang and raised 800 fierce soldiers. Several nearby counties surrendered to the Si family. Their development momentum was very good and could be regarded as a small force.
The Si family was also lucky since Pingzhou was not a battleground for military strategies, so it was not involved in that way. They just need to kill the bandits and wipe out some rebels who fled here. Limited by manpower and material resources, the Si family couldn’t do much.
Li Yuanze established the Chu Dynasty and ruled the local small forces. If the soldiers were not dismissed and surrendered, they would be crushed by the Chu army.
Naturally, the Si family wouldn’t throw an egg against a rock and willingly surrendered. They disbanded the soldiers and horses and finally got the post of Qiuling County Captain. It could be regarded as a sudden change to rejoin the officialdom of the new dynasty.
Still, the Si family was a local snake and very powerful in Mount Silang, so even if they stopped being the County Captain later, no one in Qiuling County would dare offend the Si family.
After the fall of the Chen Dynasty, the original Si family quietly raised its soldiers. In any case, raising private soldiers was a tacit thing for aristocratic families, and the Si family became the tyrant of Qiuling County.
The Si family’s young master of this generation was even more talented and successfully expanded the Si family’s business at a young age.
Now, half of Qiuling County had the Si family’s business. From restaurants to clothes shops, the Si family had a hand in everything.
Most of the caravans in front of them belonged to the Si family while the rest were from other merchants in Qiuling County, who followed the Si family to drink some profit. The end of the year was approaching so the caravans came back from all directions, bringing some goods back for sale.
Because they carried a lot of property, these caravans had guards, all of them tall and burly with swords and bows on their backs. At first glance, they weren’t Jianghu people, but guards raised by the Si family themselves.
Bows and arrows were prohibited among the common folk, but they were the standard weapons of the imperial army. However, most of the powerful nobles nowadays didn’t pay attention to the imperial court. The county government still had to give some face to local snakes like the Si family, so they could blatantly expose the forbidden bows and arrows, making ordinary robbers retreat at the sight.
According to the members of the caravan, the prosperity of Qiuling County was all due to the Si family.
The driver who drove the carriage even hyped up the young master of the Si family.
The driver was not a member of the Si family caravan, and Mo Li had no way of inquiring about anything from the Si family caravan since the guards were very dedicated and would not allow strangers to approach the convoy at all.
When the driver talked about the Si family, his tone was full of envy.
Mo Li looked at him, guessing that this person came back from outside after following the Si family caravan all the way, so he hadn’t heard the rumors from Pingzhou.
——A gold mine was discovered in Mount Silang, and the local tyrant secretly dug it. After the incident was revealed, to cover up the fact, all the miners were killed. Later, there were ghosts in the mountains and some people said that the ghosts lingered, and the evil spirit condensed into the sky, making it snow heavily.
Doctor He from Ma County told Mo Li all these.
The rumor did not mention the tyrant’s name, but in Qiuling County, the head of Mount Silang, it seemed that there was only one Si family who met the requirements.
“You two brothers are going to visit relatives in Qiuling County and want to know how many villages are there near the mountain?”
Mo Li chatted patiently with the driver and even when bragging about the Si family, he could still nod his head as a sign of agreement which surprised Meng Qi. Looking at his appearance, he thought Mo Li was the kind of person who was cold-tempered and didn’t like talking.
Meng Qi thought about it again, how could a doctor be impatient because of talking to common people?
“…in this way, the young master of the Si family is indeed a business genius. I don’t know what kind of deeds the young master’s father, the current Patriarch of the Si family, has done?”
When the driver was questioned, he scratched his head for a long time but couldn’t make a sound.
The man who was also in charge of the small caravan smiled and said: “Having such a vigorous son is enough to show off for a lifetime! In fact, it’s all luck, it happened that they got together and the Si family is where they are today. Just think, no matter how capable the young master of the Si family is, he must have enough capital! How could the Si family give a lot of money to make a young man mess around? Even if he’s the next Patriarch, it’s impossible!”
“Then the money is——”
“It’s the elixir in the mountains! About seven years ago, the Si family discovered many precious medicinal materials deep in the mountains, …it’s said that there’s also fleece flower root, so the Si family made a huge fortune!”
When Mo Li heard the word elixir, his head buzzed, and he hurriedly looked at how Meng Qi was doing.
Meng Qi didn’t become ill, but there’s sarcasm in his expression.
The driver over there was still arguing with his companion.
“Huh? Why did I hear that the Si family met a dragon in the mountains…”
“How is that possible, where do dragons come from in this world!”
The man escorting the carriage sneered, “even if there is, why would the dragon hide in the deep mountains? Our Pingzhou is not a good place, do you want to say that the dragon gave the Si family a lot of medicinal materials? How can the Si family climb above the dragon, do they want to rebel?”
The driver said angrily: “Why not, someone else saw it. At that time, there was a shadow of a dragon in the sky, but it was in the middle of the night so few people saw it.”
“You’re just bragging!”
As the people in the caravan argued, Mo Li’s expression became more and more ugly. Meng Qi saw his reaction and quietly approached him.
“Physician, are you looking for that dragon?”
Mo Li looked at Meng Qi, tempted to ask Meng Qi if his ancestral home was Mount Silang, but then he thought about it. Meng Qi had already arrived in Taijing, so he should have nothing to do with Mount Silang.
“Dragon is an illusory theory, why did Brother Meng make such a statement?”
The author has something to say:
Lingering and relying on people with more than enough wisdom, Chang’an*’s handsome things are the most recommended —— Qing, Gong Zizhen
It’s a poem about cats.
Although strictly speaking, Xianyang and Chang’an don’t completely overlap, but this is fiction, so place names and the like should not be completely substituted for the real ones. Because of the gong, a mountain will be arranged near Xianyang, the location is different from reality, and it’s not Lishan Mountain.
*raccoon slaves = what the ancients called kittens; nicknamed by the literati
*Chang’an = traditional name of Xi’an; ancient imperial capital and eastern departure point of the silk road; translates as “forever peace”