The Lightning Cat That Wasn’t
“Popinjays!” Ji Ling spat and walked away with her head raised high.
Young Master Ma exhaled in relief and looked towards Yun Yang, his expression filled with amazement. “Brother Yun, I must say… our tastes are… ahem, vastly different.”
Young Master Qin’s was a face of regret. “What a pity, such a waste…”
Pity? Looking carefully at Young Master’s Qin’s salacious eyes, Yun Yang concluded that he regretted letting that alluring body walk away from him, homely face notwithstanding.
Yun Yang tried not to laugh out loud and instead, waved a negligent hand at the baby beast in Young Master Ma’s arms, “Brother Ma, what is this is?”
Young Master Ma chortled, “This? It’s just a Lightning Cat. I bought it since it looks like lots of fun. Initially, I was attracted to its snowy fur; it’s pretty and obedient. Ordinary Lightning Cats are worth about 1,500 silver taels each, but I had to part with 2,000 silver taels for this one, it’s so expensive! I had to see what was so special about it.”
Yun Yang nodded distractedly. The self-indulgent fellow had actually bought the cat just because it was more expensive than usual. He probably had no idea what to do with his money. It looks like I asked for too little the last time. Furthermore, he said that this was…
A Lightning Cat?
Yun Yang’s thoughts came careening back to the grinning fool in front of him.
How could this be a Lightning Cat? A Lightning Cat would normally attain its third level upon reaching adulthood, but this one had already achieved the third level while still in its infancy!
“This is not a bad cat at all.” Yun Yang managed to keep the excitement from his voice.
“Does Brother Yun like it?” Young Master Ma asked in delight. “Please accept it then, with my compliments.” He handed the tiny bundle of fur over to Yun Yang.
Yun Yang was at a loss for words as he accepted the creature. Scratching his head, there was one thing he knew for sure; this wasn’t a Lightning Cat. It had to be an unidentified mystical creature… and it would definitely not plateau at the fifth level. For it to reach the third level before even a month of age, it was highly probable that the cat could reach the eighth or ninth level upon complete maturity!
To have bought it for 2,000 silver taels was such a stroke of luck, even the ancestor’s grave would smoke1!
Meanwhile, this philanderer Ma was willing to give it away, just like that.
“No, I couldn’t possibly accept this.” Yun Yang was torn. “It is, after all, Brother Ma’s most prized gem.”
Young Master Ma laughed, “This is nothing! It’s just a cat! With you, it’ll probably live a few days longer; if I were to bring it home, it would end up with a golden scaled snake in a pot of Long Hu Dou2…”
Long Hu Dou…
“If a small dragon was given to you, are you going to braise it too? What else do you know other than to eat?” Yun Yang was tempted to ask.
“If you so insist, then I shall accept it.” Yun Yang was graciousness personified. “Should I pay you 2,000 silver taels?”
Young Master Ma waved his hands in exaggerated protest, “Young Master Yun, please say no more! It would be an insult if I were to accept payment for such a petty thing. Are we not brothers? Even if you wanted my wife… of course, you’d never want my wife. But even if you did…”
Yun Yang promptly cut him off, “I get the point, let’s not wander off too far. Young Master Ma, I am in your debt.”
Young Master Ma positively beamed with delight.
Young Master Yun’s favor! That would mean…
Upon hearing this, Young Master Qin, wide-eyed with amazement, pushed himself over. “Young Master Yun, I have one here too!” he proclaimed loudly.
Yun Yang saw a small black bear in the arms of a guard standing behind Young Master Qin. It was struggling in his embrace as it cried pitifully.
“Ah, a third level mystical beast…”
Yun Yang shook his head, “No more, please. I have already accepted the cat. I’m embarrassed enough as it is.”
“No worries there.” Young Master Qin had already plucked the black cub from the guard’s hands and thrust it at Yun Yang. “Don’t be shy, we’re brothers! You absolutely must agree to take this as well!”
Yun Yang felt out of sorts hugging the black cub.
I wanted the cat because of its potential; what use is this cub?
“This… cat… where did you manage to purchase it from?” Yun Yang asked, “Are there others left?”
“Why, sure, there were plenty!” Young Master Ma’s words set Yun Yang’s heart racing. Mystical creatures such as these were rarer than rare, and there were more where it came from?
“Let’s see, it’s just over there. It’s the first, second, third, fourth, fifth… ninth or tenth shop from here,” Young Master Ma counted. “Look for a big basket containing all these cats.”
Just as he finished, he saw a shadow streak past him, and Yun Yang was already gone.
“Where’s that man?”
Young Master Ma scratched his head. “Where’d he go?”
“Beats me.” Young Master Qin lowered his head with a disheartened look; Yun Yang had disappeared but he had also left behind the black cub. He had spurned his offering! To Young Master Qin, the world was filled with evil and injustice. “Why did you accept Ma’s cat but not my bear? It’s so much larger than his cat! Even if it were to be made into a dish, it could have been apportioned into so many more servings…”
Young Master Ma was delighted as he hummed a nameless tune. “Come, Brother Qin, let me buy you a drink to celebrate!”
“I’m not free!” Young Master Qin shot his comrade a hostile glare and turned around to leave.
Yun Yang’s steps were leisurely at the start, but he began to pick up speed immediately, covering an incredible amount of ground within the blink of an eye. He moved like a raging whirlwind, but he had to remember to conceal the cat within his robes carefully. If nearby experts caught a glimpse of it, he wouldn’t be able to hold onto it for long. Forcing himself to slow down, he maintained a brisk walk; his left arm was hugging a white kitten and on his shoulder rested a young golden monkey. Ji Ling, totally clueless as to what was happening, could only break into a run to keep up with the man.
Yun Yang’s had only one goal in sight, and he immediately recognized his destination when he saw it; clear as day, a large bamboo basket stood right in front of the shop. On the outer side of the basket was a sign, “Precious Baby Beasts, Lightning Cat Offsprings”. Inside the basket, a litter of snow-white kittens were playfully engaged in a ferocious fight.
Yun Yang sprinted over in excitement but stopped short as he neared his prize. There, in front of the large bamboo basket, were a few young men playing with the kittens. Ji Ling who saw them at the same time as Yun Yang made an about-turn and promptly vanished.
These men wore lavish clothing, their gazes were sharp, and they had an indescribable aura of wealth about them. They did not speak, but their bodies radiated pride and grace as naturally as the sun gave out warmth.
They were unfamiliar to Yun Yang, and it was by that same unfamiliarity that their identities were unmasked. They need not have proclaimed their names, as there were no young masters in Tiantang City that he was not acquainted with. Ji Ling had mentioned that all the young masters and ladies from large, influential families would join the annual mystical beast tournament… and this year it would be in Tiantang City.
These men standing right before him were obviously some of those young masters, and they seemed to know exactly what they were about.
Yun Yang kept his anxiety concealed, and walked over slowly. There were indeed three kittens that were different than the others, snow-white all over with sapphire blue eyes. Although they were tiny, they seemed disinclined to play or socialize with the other kittens.
Looking carefully through squinted eyes, he could see that the other three were not as big as the one he held in his arms; they were not even second level beasts. However, that in itself was already a rare thing.
The other three young masters looked thoughtful as well.
“These kittens are quite odd,” the one bedecked in blue said.
“Perhaps they have consumed something nourishing?” the one in white suggested.
“So small, and already attained the second level!” the young master in green added.
“It’s unfortunate that they are just Lightning Cats,” the man in blue said regretfully. “The mother cat probably ate some wondrous treasure to have given birth to these, but they are still only Lightning Cats…”
Yun Yang heaved a sigh of relief.
Only Lightning Cats?
It was a good sign that these men were not very well versed, after all.
Yun Yang had to admit to himself that it was to be expected. Had the Supreme Wind, his eighth brother, not forced him to flip through the ‘Illustrated Encyclopedia of All Beasts’ during his idle moments, he would not have recognized these ‘cats’ either.
“These white kittens are really not all that bad…” Yun Yang who had a golden baby monkey on his shoulder squatted down while scratching the kitten hidden under his robes. Without giving away a hint of what he was doing, he sent a sliver of Endless Divine Art into the kitten’s body. The kitten immediately curled up peacefully and laid still.
Simultaneously, he directed three other pulses of the Endless Divine Art’s energy into the three kittens in the basket; comforting them. The three kittens that had wanted to move towards Yun Yang laid back down in contentment.
It didn’t matter who these people were, Yun Yang was determined to see his plan through; he had to have these little critters! His mannerisms practically screamed, “I will buy them!”