OMF V1C7 Compromise

Qiu Ling sighed and put down Jing Yi. The Zhongs were outside. What would that daoist do, if nobody opened the door?
„Mister Zhong, Madam Zhong!“, called Mister Pi outside. „Qiguan Cheng Da came to visit. He agreed to have a look at your son.“
His voice was loud enough to alarm Mister and Madam Zhong at the other side of the village. The two of them hurried back. Mister Zhong’s face clouded, as soon as he saw the throng of people at his doorstep. „What is happening here?“
Mister Pi dutifully made his way through the crowd. „Mister Zhong, today is your lucky day! Qiguan Cheng Da came. He’ll have a look at your son.“
„He will what?“ Mister Zhong didn’t believe his ears. „What does my son need a daoist for?“ In every other situation, Mister Zhong would have been ecstatic, had a daoist come by and showed interest in his son. But it was Qiguan Cheng Da, they were talking about here, and with all those rumors flying around the last few weeks, he could very well imagine, why that particular daoist had come over.
„Mister Zhong, please, calm down! It’s for your own good.“
Qiguan Cheng Da followed Mister Pi and nodded toward the Zhongs. „Mister Zhong, Madam Zhong, I was told about the heretic —“
„What heretic practitioner!“ Mister Zhong clenched his fists and turned to Miss Lian, who stood not far away. „My wife had unbelievably good look, that a daoist came by to save her and our child. How can you vilify such a good man? And that even in front of another daoist! Haven’t you done enough harm?“
„I haven’t said anything! It was Madam Pan!“ Miss Lian pushed the blame onto her neighbor, crossed the arms in front of her chest and lifted her chin. She certainly wouldn’t let others say to her face, that she was a gossip monger. Even though it couldn’t be dismissed, that all of this had only happened, because she had described the alleged daoist with such fervency.
Qiu Ling looked at the child next to him. „I’m afraid, you have to thank me for this nasty defamation. I was careless. But this might just be the perfect opportunity, to make up for my fault.“ The corners of his mouth raised and in a spell, he vanished out of the hut of the Zhongs and appeared not far from the village at the path through the forest. He exchanged his clothes for the robes of a daoist and this time, he remembered to change his face, too.
As the dragon king, Qiu Ling was everything but young. Nevertheless, he hardly seemed older than twenty years of age. Next to Mister Zhong, who was only in his mid-twenties, he looked younger, because of his chiseled features. But now, his body aged visibly, until maybe ten years separated him from Jing Yi’s father.
Qiu Ling lifted his hand. Water danced around his fingers, covered his palm and formed a silver mirror. Qiu Ling examined his face and sighed. Pretending to be mortal was anything but easy.
He furrowed his brow. He couldn’t change his face too much or the people wouldn’t believe him to be the same daoist, Miss Lian had seen that night. He narrowed his eyes and examined himself in the mirror again.
His eyebrows grew denser, his lips became a little thicker. He was still far from looking like a normal mortal, but it might be enough to not let the villagers view him as a heretic practitioner anymore.
Qiu Ling dropped his hand and the mirror disappeared. He made sure nobody was in the vicinity and stopped hiding his form from mortal eyes. Then, he proceeded down the path into the village.
On the village square the conflict got worse.
„If nothing is wrong with the child, then there is no reason, to deter the real daoist from having a look at it!“ This was Madam Pan, who tried to justify herself for telling the story about the heretic practitioner to Qiguan Cheng Da. Naturally, she didn’t feel to be in the wrong. Everyone knew, that something was up with the Zhong’s child. How could it be wrong? She had only tried to help, but those people just didn’t appreciate the trouble she had taken for them!
„A real daoist?“, Madam Zhong, too, joined the fray. „You aren’t talking about Qiguan Cheng Da, are you? How long has he been gone? One year? Half a year? What could he have learned in such a short time?“
Qiguan Cheng Da gritted his teeth and forced himself to continue smiling. It would be below the honorable status of a daoist to squabble with oafish villagers, if they weren’t able to recognize his abilities. His mother, however, couldn’t let this insult slide. Not only, that her son was her pride and joy: Madam Zhong was nearly ten years younger than her. How could she dare to behave like such in front of her?!
„What do you mean by that, Madam Zhong?“
„I mean, that your son isn’t a real daoist! Even if something was wrong with our son, I certainly wouldn’t ask him to have a look!“
„You —!“ Before she had time to abuse the Zhongs, Mister Pi held her back, how he imagined a cultured man would do, and tried to appease her.
„Please, please. We should all calm down and take a step back. Now that Cheng Da is here, he can just have a look at the child. It won’t hurt him.“
Madam Zhong nearly erupted. What everyone taking a step back? This was clearly them just picking on her family! She had enough of the loose talk regarding her son! She’d teach them a lesson today!
But before she could even utter a single word, the villagers continued as if to cap it all off: „Aiya!“, Madam Pan piped up. „Somebody should just go and get the child! Isn’t he in the house? Pan Chang! You’re standing there already. Go, fetch the child!“ She motioned to her husband.
Mister Pan, who really stood only a few steps from the door of the Zhongs, didn’t wait for their approval and went in.
Madam Zhong stared unbelieving at the opened door to their house. In there was her first child. Most probably the only child, she’d ever be able to birth for her husband. If something happened to Jing Yi … She wanted to hurry over, but Madam Pan thwarted her.
„Aiya, Madam Zhong! Calm down! My husband is only fetching the child for Qiguan Cheng Da to have a short look at him. Nobody’s going to hurt the child.“
„That is still my son!“ She tried to force her way through, but now even Miss Lian interfered.
„Madam Zhong, Madam Zhong!“ She wanted to hold her down, but Madam Zhong had tried to pass them with such vehemence, that she recoiled.
She screamed and extended her arms, to hold on to something, but she couldn’t reach anything.

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