To be honest, Fu DeMing had no idea what was going on.
Just this morning, he was out on the fields, in the middle of planting for the new season, and then a cultivator landed on his field. And not just any cultivator, but the renowned genius Jin ZiXin, sect leader of the Heavenly Abyss Sect!
Sect Leader! In his field!
Even now, a full two hours after their initial meeting, Fu DeMing felt himself blush fiercely at his reaction at the time. But anyone would have reacted the same! Who ever expected a cultivator, much less one as famous as Jin ZiXin, to appear in their field?! Obviously, the only proper thing to do in that situation was to fall down on his ass, lose the grip on his tool and stare with wide eyes and an open mouth as the cultivator, dressed impeccably, stepped off their flying sword.
"So...." Fu DeMing finally summoned up the courage to speak to the cultivator, who was now drinking his subpar tea. What had the world come to?!
"Esteemed Cultivator, is there a reason you have come here?"
He felt like crying! Why was he being so overly polite?! Now the cultivator would know how uncomfortable he was!
He gasped as a thought hit him, "There isn't anything dangerous here, is it?!"
The renowned cultivator — who should not be in a shabby house in the middle of a field — put down the tea and stared him straight in the eyes. Those dark, serious orbs felt like they could see straight through his soul.
Finally, the sect leader said, "I am looking to hire people."
"Huh?" Fu DeMing blinked. But no, nothing changed. The cultivator was still sitting there in white and purple robes, half his hair pulled back in a tail and the rest flowing freely. "You want to... hire people?"
"Yes." Jin ZiXin — a cultivator! — nodded sharply, his expression looking more annoyed by the second.
Fu DeMing swallowed the saliva in his mouth. "If you don't mind me asking.... what for?"
"Teaching." the famous cultivator stated simply and drank the last of the tea.
Fu DeMing was only more confused. He scratched the back of his head and leaned back on his hands on the floor, away from the equally shabby table. "I don't understand." he admitted.
The cultivator frowned. "I wish to teach.... more practical skills to my sect's disciples. Like farming, cooking and sewing. Do you know of any skilled people nearby who would be willing to teach these skills to my sect, in exchange for food and board?"
Fu DeMing blinked in confusion, moving his scarred hand to scratch at his eyebrow and frowning in thought. Was this another one of those training things for cultivators? Did they want more physical training or something? A more physically demanding training that would require use of muscles they didn't normally depend on?
Nevertheless, despite his lack of understanding, he answered honestly, "Well, for cooking I suppose you could hit up Old Lady Chen. Her restaurant went bankrupt last year, so she's looking for new work. As for the others... I don't know."
"You could not teach farming?" the cultivator sect leader frowned where he sat.
"What?! No!" Fu DeMing shouted before he could control himself. Then he remembered who he was speaking with and cursed to himself in his mind. He laughed nervously, "I-I mean, I'm so busy with planting for the next season right now."
"But if you are busy, will not every successful farmer be busy as well?"
To that, Fu DeMing had no answer to give.
"Think about it." the sect leader said and leaned forward, an intense air gathering around him. "Learning to farm requires a more hands on approach, so a couple of disciples will be sent in groups, no more then three at the same time, to stay for a couple of weeks, perhaps a full month, to learn everything about farming from you. We'll rotate through them and keep going for as long as you think is necessary. At no cost of your own, you will be granted the help of three able-bodied younglings, and we will even pay you to feed and house them."
By the time he stopped talking, Jin ZiXin was leaning over half the table, his dark eyes narrowed and with an almost manic glee shining in them. Somehow, this just made him more good-looking.
Fu DeMing leaned back and cleared his throat, "Well, that is... ah, I mean-"
"It's a good deal, and you know it." the cultivator interrupted him before he had a chance to say anything else.
"Hehehe... " Fu DeMing devolved into his preferred shield of choice when dealing with his wife: laughing stiffly to stall for time. "I guess so... "
"Good." Suddenly, the renowned genius sect leader, the one that was said to be grace and elegance incarnated, smiled brightly at him, positively beaming with energy. His cheeks colored pink from the effort of it, and his eyes — Fu DeMing swore they honestly sparkled.
It felt like an attack against him. It must be, right? Surely, it was some sort of vicious cultivation attack meant to lower mental defenses!
Otherwise, Fu DeMing was just that weak.
"Ah, hehehe, you're right... this is too good an opportunity to pass up... hehehe... " Fu DeMing was still laughing awkwardly when the front door of his modest house flew open and his son stumbled in.
Fu DeLun, his beloved son who had just turned fifteen, stumbled in through the front door like his ass was on fire. He swore uncouthly and slammed the door after him, shaking half the house in the process. Fu DeMing put his hands over his face, leaned on the low table and groaned at the complete lack of decorum. Hadn't his son been warned about the cultivator by the other workers? Was he deliberately showing such disrespect? Were they all going to die now?!
His son sneered when he caught sight of the pristine-looking cultivator sitting at their dining table, his black eyes almost spitting venom at them. Like Fu DeMing, he was of stocky build, with rough hands from years of hard work and hair that went to his shoulders trapped in a messy ponytail.
Unlike his father, whose hair was now greying and who had a beard growing on his face, his son still had that look of youth on him, baby-fat still clinging to his cheeks.
And, of course, there was his disrespectful attitude.
Fu DeMing didn't know where he got it from! His mother, may she rest in peace, had been a timid and gentle woman, and he himself had certainly never dared to look down upon a cultivator, especially not one from an actual sect!
Maybe rogue cultivators.... but not any from sects!
He frowned heavily at this unruly son of his and barked out, "Be respectful!"
"Yes, father." his son drawled, certainly nothing respectful about it. Fu DeLun continued sneering even as he sat himself down next to his father and started a staring match with the cultivator.
Fu DeMing wished the ground would rise up and swallow him! Bury him in the dirt and let him escape this awkwardness! So what if he was a grown man? So what if he was supposed to be proud of his son's strong nature? This was really embarrassing, okay?!
However, contrary to his fears, the esteemed cultivator sitting in his house didn't take offense. Instead, Jin ZiXin just stared back at his stupid, disrespectful son until his son was forced to admit defeat.
"Hmm." the cultivator tilted his head to the side and gave his son a considering look. "I suppose it will be good for our disciples to interact with ordinary people their own age. Yes." he nodded to himself and Fu DeMing all of a sudden got a bad feeling. "This will do quite nicely. We are in agreement, then? You will teach our disciples?"
It did not sound like a question.
"Wait!" his son interrupted loudly. "What's this about? What could my father possibly teach cultivators?"
He sneered out the last word, as if it was dirt in his mouth, and beneath him utterly. Fu DeMing felt another wave of embarrassment threaten to drown him. "DeLun, show some respect! And it's just teaching them farming, even your old man can do it."
"Humph!" his son stuck his nose in the air and condescension was basically rolling off of him.
Fu DeMing had to restrain himself from smacking his son on the head in the presence of someone so illustrious. "Ungrateful brat!" he simply growled instead.
"Sign this, please." the cultivator pulled out a scroll from their billowing sleeves and unrolled it on the table, showcasing the contract therein. He held out a brush too — higher quality then he had ever used before — and Fu DeMing leaned over to get a better look at it. He didn't manage to stop his son from grabbing a hold of it and tearing it to pieces, though.
Crying! He was crying! What was with his son these days?!
The cultivator didn't get angry, but just pulled out another scroll. When he unrolled it, Fu DeMing realized it was simply a copy of the previous one. "What?" Jin ZiXin asked when he saw their startled looks. "It's just common sense to carry more than what you need. Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it."
At that, Fu DeMing nodded in understanding. That was certainly a good policy to have. Perhaps he should implement it himself when going on longer journeys.
The sect leader pulled the scroll away from his son's wandering hands and tsk'd. He stated, "If you sign now, I'll exorcise the ghost in your son for free."
"A ghost?!" Fu DeMing's shrill voice resounded in the small house.
"Yes." Jin ZiXin nodded seriously and took out a talisman. "No need to worry though, it's a very weak one."
Fu DeMing swung his head around to stare at his son, just in time to see black take over his entire eyeballs and blood start pouring from his nose. "Get rid of it!" he demanded.
"Sign the contract and I will."
Fu DeMing shot over the table to grab it and ran off to get his writing supplies. He rarely used them, so they were put away in a cabinet. He cursed as he tore it open and grabbed a hold of the supplies carelessly. Hurrying back to the table, he ignored his son who had started laugh maliciously and were spouting off curses while trying to kill the cultivator.
As soon as he had ink, he pushed the brush into it and then wrote his name on the line at the bottom of the scroll as fast as he could and still have legible. Then he held it up in the cultivators direction.
"Good." Jin ZiXin nodded at him and gave him a small smile.
Then he ran over to his possessed son — oh god, he was a horrible father, how could he not have realized that his son was possessed?! The legendary cultivator ran over to his son and slapped the talisman onto his front.
There was a hissing sound and then something dark, like a moving shadow, tore out of his son, and his son screamed like he had never heard him before. Even when his mother died, he hadn't screamed like that, nor when he broke his arm. Fu DeMing couldn't resist running over to his only child and grabbing a hold of him, taking his weight just in time to stop him from falling to the ground and possibly hitting his head.
The cultivator stepped around them, not sparing them so much as a glance, and took the scroll from where it laid abandoned on the floor.
"He will be fine now. I will send over the first group of disciples in a days time, you'd best prepare for them."