Lu Chen walked briskly down the dirt road, his expression was colder than ice. Behind him, a young girl about eighteen or nineteen with a very meek demure pair of large doe-like eyes breathlessly jogged to catch up with him.
"Big brother, big brother! Please wait, don't hurry like that. Calm down first, they might be wrong. Maybe they didn't see well. How can sister-in-law cheat on you just a few weeks after your wedding?" The soft, doe-eyed girl shouted between her breaths at his back.
Seeing that he did not stop, the girl gathered her strength and ran after him. No matter what, she must not miss this new drama in the village!
Behind the two that hurried down the dirt path, a few villagers stretched their necks to look at them and turned to each other curiously.
"Hey, what happened?" One man asked the other villagers around him.
The villagers wore patched, faded clothes. Their faces and bodies were brown with dirt from the hard day of farm work but their eyes still shone eagerly at the inkling of fresh gossip.
"Who knows? That goody two-shoes boy marching like he is going to kill a demon. Didn't he just come back this very afternoon with the other men that went to dig the trenches upstream? He is still so energetic. Ah, it's good to be young!"
"What do you know? I just walked past the Lu house and heard the whole matter. I even saw Lu Chen burst out of the house in anger. That sweet girl, Feifei, couldn't calm him down at all today." Another villager answered with a sly grin.
"Don't tease our appetite, tell us already! That boy from the Lu family is so calm and polite all the time, what could make him so angry?"
The villager with the juicy information chuckled and licked his lips much to the exasperation of the other villagers. "Ah, don't burn me with your eyes, I'll talk. I heard the woman he married a few weeks ago is having an affair!"
Several villagers stared at the informant with wide eyes or gaping mouths.
The man nodded eagerly as if to confirm his own words and continued, "His new bride is so daring to wear him a green hat just after their wedding. As we speak, she is still humping in the hay with the man somewhere!"
A woman clicked her tongue and shook her head with a pitiful expression. "That Lu Chen is too unfortunate. No wonder he is so vigorous instead of resting after so many weeks of tiring work."
The other villagers started to discuss among themselves excitedly.
"I knew it! Did you see the way the new bride's family turned their nose at Lu family on the wedding day?"
"I heard they wanted the Lu family to cook a whole pig for the wedding feast. They even insisted Lu Chen must promise to move into his own house within three years."
"Outrageous! I live with my kids and grandkids in the same courtyard, there is nothing wrong. Those townsfolk are way too unreasonable."
"And they have no sense of morality too. Lu Chen left the next day to go and fulfil his communal service, and that town bride? While her husband is digging trenches, she is digging into other men, shameless!"
"What do you expect? I hear it is normal for girls in town to sleep around before their wedding. They are all loose women, she can't even stay a few weeks before finding another man to warm her body."
"Ah, these girls from outside our village have no character, all greedy, loose, lazy and disrespectful wretches."
"This is why we shouldn't marry outside our village, see her morals?"
The villagers shook their heads and lambasted the new wife of the Lu family. Who did not know that the Lu family was struggling financially? Despite that, it still spent a lot of its small savings to marry that literate girl into the family for their good son.
"Ah, that Lu Chen has misfortune. If his grandfather's eyes hadn't gone bad, he won't have dropped out from school. With his handsome face won't many town girls be lining up to marry him? Too bad they had to settle for an immoral woman."
"Hmm, hey, let's go watch the fight. I bet Lu Chen would fight with that adulterous pair!"
"Let's go, let's go! Ah, which direction did he head again?"
Along the way, a few more villagers heard the hot gossip and joined the group and chatted happily as they followed Lu Chen's trail. The thoughts of rest and cooking dinner was temporarily tossed aside, it was not often they got to see exciting incidents in their monotonous farming village.
Meanwhile, in a hut somewhere, a very young woman was lying unconscious on a straw mat.
Her skin was fair and unblemished, hued with a light tan she had gotten in the past few weeks. At a glance, her appearance was different from the other girls in the village. The girl had no callusses from tedious farm work or blemishes from harsh sunlight.
Her long black hair fanned out on the mat. The young woman was pleasing on the eyes. She had full long brows, a perky nose and rosy pink lips. She laid there silently sleeping.
But behind her shut eyelids, something strange had happened to her soul. In fact, her current soul was from her future self.
The unconscious woman, with a time-defying soul, was Chang Ying.
Chang Ying could vaguely remember her unexpected death. One moment she was walking home, then her body felt like it was overcome by a scorching heat and in the next moment, she had passed on.
Afterwards, Chang Ying found her soul floating in the vast yellow sea.
The realm of death and reincarnation was like an endless murky sea. Billions or trillions or maybe more souls floated endlessly within the yellowish depths. The souls were like peacefully sleeping phantoms slowly drifting towards a gigantuan, dark whirlpool at the center. Chang Ying somehow knew within her, that whirlpool was the gateway to her reincarnation as a new life.
But strangely enough, Chang Ying had been interrupted. More concisely, her soul had become conscious in this sea of sleeping souls.
She had stopped moving towards that whirlpool and a strange creature she was very sure was responsible for it, floated energetically in front of her like a preppy balloon.
She stared at the small, cute, red jellyfish.
"So you see, this mess is a weeny, teeny tiny, little bit my fault." It admitted in a soft, childish voice. Its pink-red tentacles swayed animatedly, gesticulating as it spoke.
Chang Ying squinted apprehensively at the red jellyfish-like creature. Was it admitting a fault or was it not admitting?
What was weeny, teeny, tiny, little whatever? Was that even a measurement?
Seeing her confusion, the jellyfish started to explain. "I am a world observer. There are various worlds a souls can reincarnate into. Some worlds are full of magic, others have cultivation systems, while some are based on science and so on and so forth. I am a great honourary being that travels between these worlds to supervise the soul stability of the inhabitants. Aren't I great?"
It swayed its soft tentacles and its round body bobbed around as if waiting for her awe and praise.
Chang Ying's soul raised a translucent brow at the small but arrogant being flapping its tentacles in front of her. After watching it sway around for a while, she dryly said, "I think I better be on my way to my next life."
"Wait, wait, wait!" The red jellyfish hurriedly swam in front of her and spread its tentacles to block her. It pouted, looking very aggrieved. "You girl, don't you have any regrets for this life?"
Chang Ying nodded with clear, limpid eyes. "Hmm, I have a lot. So I want move on quickly to forget."
The red jellyfish waved it tentacles angrily. "You are so hard to talk to! Don't you want another chance to straighten things out? None of those horrible things were meant to happen to you!"
Chang Ying looked at the red jellyfish puzzled. It was true, she had a lot of regrets. Even till now, her heart felt so bitter and unable to let go. She could only look forward to forgetting everything in her reincarnation as a new person. "What do you mean?"
"I, the great and honorary..."
"Cut out the useless drivel," Chang Ying sharply interrupted it.
"You!" It huffed and grunted but it still continued to explain, "When I crossed into your world for my mission, I lost a special pearl I picked up a cultivation world in your world. That pearl fell into Feifei's hands, it allowed Feifei to defy her fate and be reborn back to a time when she was still young, full of potential and with all the memories of events that would happen to her in the future."
Chang Ying could barely follow what this strange jellyfish creature was telling her. It was strange enough that this was the aaftrlife and they were having a conversation around floating souls!
Still, she tried to keep up. According to the little red jellyfish, Feifei originally had a mediocre fate due to negative karma from her previous life. She was supposed to pass through tribulations and trials in this lifetime in other to dispel her karma and accumulate good deeds for her next life.
So, though Feifei was pretty, she only attracted mediocre suitors. Though she finished high school and married a government worker, her family was only middle-wage at best.
After Feifei got married, she didn't give birth to children for years. This was her trial of perserverance. She had to endure her in-laws who blamed her for their childless marriage.
Feifei had to withstand the mockery and snide insults of her colleagues, neighbours, friends, everywhere until she got pregnant.
After she gave birth, Feifei started the bland life of raising a family
But Feifei was not content with a average life, she looked on at those high-flying young upstarts and second-generation rich kids with envy. There was a deep longing in her soul for that glamorous life. Unfortunately, her reality was average. Her existence in the world, mundane.
Much later, her husband went for a company medical checkup. Shockingly, they found out it was her husband who was infertile, not her.
This discovery brought with it a new problem. It did not take long for her husband to also find out the child in their home was not his. Maybe he could have accepted the child if it wasn't Feifei's either, but Feifei was the mother of the child. His ego was bruised, the child became a thorn in his flesh, pointing at his own incapability.
The man crumbled, started drinking and stayed away from their home.
Not long after, her husband had an accident and became paralysed. Feifei suddenly became the sole breadwinner. Her mother-in-law forced her to spend her meagre salary on her husband's treatment. Every passing day, Feifei felt like a trapped bird that died a little each day.
Around this time, Feifei picked up the pearl and made a bond with it. With it, she got a second chance and went back to my youthful days.
With a fresh start, Feifei made new decisions. She married her handsome, childhood crush, Lu Chen, started businesses with her foreknowledge and boldly walked down the path of making money and face-slapping her oppressors from her past life.
It was all good for Feifei. So...how did this affect Chang Ying?
The handsome, childhood crush Feifei married was Chang Ying's husband.
As Chang Ying began to understand both timelines, she got to know that in both Feifei's first life and her second after rebirth, Lu Chen had married her! The only difference was in Feifei's second life, she caused trouble for the couple and snatched Lu Chen away.
Very, very good, Chang Ying smiled bitterly. This Feifei deserved a very tight slap.