Fanfiction: Ink in Water - Chapter 17 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 17. Boundaries and borders

written by Bunny
consulting/editing: Le, LalaLoop, LigayaCroft, kakashi

“Oh! Zheyan, you better head to the main hall,” Bai Qian turned to tell the person beside her as soon as she remembered the very thing she had run there to do. “There’s... a guest... asking for Shifu and—” As soon as the sun’s glare had cleared from her eyes, it became plain as day that she was speaking to absolutely no one. “Zheyan?” Had she been staring at the blinding sunlight for that long? Standing there, in front of her Master’s door, completely losing track of time. She had thought the Old Phoenix was still with her. Where had he gone?

Her head twisted to look down the hallway behind. No sign of him there either. Only vacant stillness. So still she could count the motes of dust hanging in the air.

“Who is asking for me?”

The sound of that calm voice startled her through the silence, causing her to flinch like a cat. Bai Qian flipped around and almost tripped over her own feet. Her face was mere inches away from the wall of a man’s chest. Disoriented, she put her hands up before her in a defensive gesture, unable to focus on anything.

“Are you alright?”

She gasped when she felt his hands on her wrists.

Drawing her head up, she stared. Until the face she searched for went from blurry to clear. Chiseled features distorted in and out, interchanged between spears of sunlight.

“Little Seventeenth…”

When he spoke this time, she opened her eyes wider, exclaiming, “Shifu!”

Bai Qian had already been told that her Master was awake, but looking at him now, it was hard to recover from shock. He looked haggard and worn. Eyebrows pinched ever so slightly. And his skin... it was so pale, it was nearly translucent. As though at any moment, he could very well melt away and become a part of the air. The thought was like a rope that tugged at her feet. And before she knew it, Bai Qian had wrenched herself from his grip and dove forward.

Hugging him so tightly, they were about to meld into one.

His body stiffened.

Instead of letting go, she kept digging her fingers into the back of his robe, as though it was the only method she could think of to ensure he would not disappear.

A long silent moment passed before she heard him speak again. “Are you really that surprised to see me?” His breath trickled down from above, scattering across the top of her hairline. Bai Qian couldn’t tell if he was sighing or laughing.

It all felt so real—that he was standing there, talking to her, but she was too stubborn to believe it.

“Shifu,” she mumbled. “Are you really back this time?”

She could feel the vibrations of his chuckle.

What was so funny?

“I wasn’t aware that I had gone anywhere,” Moyuan replied.

Bai Qian removed her head from his chest and looked up at him. His eyes staring back at her brimmed with amusement. Could it be that she was overreacting? Getting all worked up for nothing? He had slept for three whole days, and of course, three days wasn’t a long stretch of time by any account. But why would he collapse in the first place? She had seen it with her own eyes. Was he unwell? Or was this normal? How could any of it be normal? Who had ever heard of anyone coming back after having their soul scattered to define what was normal or not?

When his hand came up to pat the back of her head, she went rigid. Bai Qian tucked her head right back down. Why? The gesture was so familiar—so soothing, and yet, for whatever reason, it had brought a mounting pain to the back of her throat, a warm pressure rising behind her eyes. Like some sort of trigger.

She bit down on her lips. Trying to hold in her breath until she felt blue in the face. A bottled whimper was choking to get out. It didn’t take long for her cheeks to feel like they were being consumed by a horde of fire ants.

“I see.” Moyuan’s voice softened considerably. His arms slowly came to encase her. “It seems I’ve caused you to worry again...”

“Shifu,” her voice croaked. She buried her face deeper. She didn’t want to turn into a blubbering mess at all, but it was happening. For some reason, in this person’s presence, all she felt compelled to do was turn back into that silly little girl who always ran to him crying about every inconsequential thing.

“It’s alright…” She felt his hand on the center of her back, rubbing in circular motions. “I’m here, aren’t I?”

Another familiar movement to soothe her. Maybe they had both formed these habits around each other, neither one knowing how to act any differently, no matter how much time had passed. Truthfully, Bai Qian couldn’t recall the last time she had allowed herself this sort of luxury. To be able to release her anxiety; letting her emotions spill like a burst in a dam. Onto someone else. Had there been any occasion in the years they had spent apart where she’d felt it was alright to do this? With anybody that wasn’t him?

“Seventeenth, listen to me…” His voice resounded in a tremble that moved from his chest onto hers. “If this is about my health, you shouldn’t concern yourself with it. As you know, I have only just returned to this body. It is still adjusting to the presence of my soul being back. Sleeping for a few days’ time… only helps it to convalesce. There is no reason for you to be troubled.”

But that wasn’t it. How could this simply be the result of a few sleepless nights? It was half a lifetime of worry that was only now dissembling.

She couldn’t stop crying. Moyuan must have realized, because he drew her even closer. Making time pass sluggishly by in the shelter he formed around her. By the time her tears finally dried, Bai Qian realized she was wishing they hadn’t. She simply didn’t want any reason to budge an inch from her current position. That’s preposterous! What do you plan to do, stay glued to him forever? As absurd as it was, the thought placed a tingling warmth in the pit of her stomach. Maybe if I just cry for a little longer… Realizing she had just thought of something genius, Bai Qian pushed her face deeper into her Master’s robe and churned out a few more whimpers for good measure.

“SHIFU! You’re awake!” A voice exploded, shooting down the hall like a splash of cold water. “Ah— Seventeenth? What are you doing?”

Bai Qian pulled back abruptly. Detaching her arms, she drew them to her side, and looked over at that quickly approaching figure. Zilan was now a few yards away, eyes squinted in her direction. She swallowed hard and stared awkwardly back. Two droplets of sweat slid slowly down her temple. Why do I suddenly feel guilty? Bringing her sleeve up to her face, she tried to wipe away all remnants of her earlier outburst, but the mess was far worse than expected.

“Is everything… alright?” her Sixteenth Senior asked.

“Mn! Everything’s fine!” Bai Qian shouted back, she couldn’t look him in the eyes. It’s not like I did anything wrong…

“Sixteenth, come.” Beside her, Moyuan was calm, as he always was, summoning her Senior over. When the latter’s attention was no longer on her, Bai Qian felt her chest deflate in a sigh of relief.

But why was she relieved?

“How do you feel, Shifu?” Zilan asked anxiously, beelining for their Master.

“Very well.” Moyuan set his hand on the other’s shoulder as soon as he arrived, giving it a gentle squeeze of reassurance. Bai Qian could tell by the way her Senior was eyeing their Master up and down that he was not convinced by this answer. When he spoke this time, his voice was lowered to a soft murmur, as though he was afraid if he so much as raised it, the person he was speaking to would topple over. “Is there anything you need, Shifu? Can I get you anything?”

Moyuan smiled and slowly shook his head, then asked, “Zilan, is there someone here asking for me?”

“Ah?” Seemingly caught off guard, Zilan hesitated. “Um… it’s…”

“Nobody!” Bai Qian shouted. But at that same moment, her Senior had already said, “Tianjun.”

You have to be kidding me... She scowled at him.

“Tianjun is here?”

“Yes, but High God Zheyan is out there talking to him now, Shifu,” Zilan said, quickly trying to recover from what he had let slip. “I don’t think you need to go—”

“I will go see him,” Moyuan replied, walking away.

“NO!” Bai Qian wondered how exactly she had grown so bold. She had once again taken both arms out and detained her Master with them. “YOU CAN’T!”

Moyuan looked at her, and his eyebrow did a twitch. His eyes started out on her face, then migrated down to her hands, which were now coiled around the crook of his elbow.


“I don’t care what you say, Shifu!” Bai Qian shook her head adamantly, refusing to dislodge. “I’m not letting you go!” She had even started feverishly tugging his arm in the direction of his chamber. “You need to rest—Zheyan said so! If you go out there and talk to those lofty people you might end up requiring three more days of sleep! What will we do then? Do you really wish to worry me to death? Don’t you think you’ve already taken enough years off of my life?!”

What exactly did I just say? Bai Qian had been speaking so fast, she had forgotten to breathe. Taking a deep inhale, she looked at Moyuan, half in remorse, half in annoyance. Maybe she had gone a little overboard. But seeing that soft smile he had painted on his lips, she was irked even more.

Meanwhile, over on her right, her Sixteenth Senior’s mouth had dropped open. He was gaping at her like she had gone completely crazy. “Seventeenth! What’s gotten into you?!” Zilan took two steps forward and pried her hands away from Moyuan. “Shifu, you’ll have to forgive this junior of mine, she’s probably just hungry… I’ll take her to the kitchen now for some food to calm her down!”

And with that statement, Zilan seized her by the wrist, and turned tail.

The hell?!

“What—No! Sixteenth Senior! Let—me—go!” Bai Qian struggled, but by the time she could break free, they were already pivoting down another hallway.

“You really have been too spoiled by him.” Zilan shook his head as he retracted his hands. “Just because Shifu allows you to act like that, doesn’t mean you should continue to do so...”

“What do you mean? You know he needs his rest! I only wanted to prevent him from getting a headache from those people out there!”

“That’s not what I’m talking about.”

“Then what are you talking about?!”

“What was going on… when I first saw the two of you?”

“That—that... was…”

“Seventeenth,” Zilan sighed. “It’s not like I don’t know you… I know you well enough to know that your first instinct is always to cling to Shifu in any situation—which was fine in the past... but you should really think about whether or not that’s appropriate now.”

Appropriate? What he was suggesting? How exactly was it inappropriate? She had initially thought he was referring to her crying fit, which was undoubtedly embarrassing, but other than that… what was wrong with... giving their Master physical affection? Moyuan was like a father to all of them. If children were not allowed to hug their fathers, how much sense would that make?

Bai Qian stared back at her Senior, wide-eyed, still trying to tease out the confusion in her mind. They had already made it to the kitchen by that time, but she hadn’t even noticed.

“You don’t see the problem, do you?” Zilan started digging around the cabinets. “Just think for a moment about your current identity, the way you look, your relations to a certain Crown Prince… You are no longer SiYin of yesteryears… If you don’t want people to misunderstand I would suggest you start acting like the rest of us do around Shifu.”

“Misunderstand what?” Her head tilted sideways. “Sixteenth Senior… it’s not like you can’t hug Shifu from time to time, too… I’m sure he would like that.”

“……” Zilan rubbed his forehead with a pained expression. “Why did I actually think you would get it? Are you sure you’re even a female? I thought females were more aware of this sort of thing…”

What was that supposed to mean? Bai Qian wanted to start massaging her own forehead too. A massive migraine was kicking in. “Sixteenth Senior, I’ll decide for myself what’s appropriate or n—” Out of nowhere, his hand had moved like a dart and stuffed a ball of something squarely into her mouth.

“Mnmph!” Bai Qian wanted to curse at first, but as soon as the taste of sweet sticky rice seeped onto her palate, and she realized it was the first bite of food she’d had in three days, her appetite immediately took over. She started chewing in complete submission. How did this happen? She had been so cross one moment, and now she was about as happy as a clam. Polishing off that ball of rice in two bites, she watched in utter rapture as her Senior molded a few more for her.

“I get that you don’t normally think about these things, and it’s not like I’m trying to make things difficult for you, Seventeenth...” He handed her another riceball. “But I hope you do realize… that every relationship has its boundaries.”

Bai Qian wasn’t sure she would ever understand the meaning of his words, but nevertheless, she had decided that if he were to keep feeding her, she would keep chewing and nodding.

By the time they had made it back out to the main hall, she was gripping her stomach.

She had inhaled four balls of sticky rice so quickly, she was now feeling sick. Following closely behind her Sixteenth Senior, they tried to return to their seats discreetly, but it was turning out to be a much harder task than expected. Why is it so quiet? The scene was completely different from how she had left it; it was like walking into an alternate reality. Bai Qian was expecting to enter a maelstrom, but instead, everyone was in their seats, no one was yelling, and no tables had been flipped. It was the kind of peace and order that was actually normal for Kunlun Mountain.

Casting her eyes to the front of the room, they immediately landed on the person occupying the main seat. Moyuan was sitting in his usual position, receiving tea from their Second Senior. His face appeared to have taken on more color. There was even that distinct, profound aura of sovereignty radiating from him that instantly put her at ease. The magnitude of it seemed to have quelled the rest of the room into submission.

Even Xiao Yu had resigned to sitting soundlessly at one of the side tables, drinking tea, resembling a civilized human being. But maybe she had formed the thought too hastily. As soon as he saw her approaching from the corner of his eye, he shouted, “Nice of you to join us again, Furball! We were just discussing the love of your life!”

Bai Qian’s eyes narrowed in utter contempt.

“Oh! You should have been here to see the look on the Heavenly Lord’s face when he heard the news that his grandson used to be a little lotus blossom that lived on Kunlun Mountain!”

Whatever order there was, it seemed to be slipping again.

Bai Qian could see that Tianjun was twitching in his seat, and the whole room was bracing for another outburst. But perhaps, because he had realized that it was meaningless to fight such an individual, the Heavenly Ruler had opted to turn his direction back to her Master instead.

“Moyuan, all of this certainly explains a lot…” he said. “Over the years, we have always questioned why Yehua bore such an uncanny resemblance to you. Now it makes perfect sense. He is lucky to call you his brother. And I’m sure he will be very pleased when he learns of this. We have become one family...” Turning his head to Bai Qian, Tianjun added, “I also did not realize until today that the High Goddess Bai Qian is your disciple. I’m sure you have already heard the good news from her... We are all very excited to soon welcome the High Goddess into the Celestial Clan.”

Bai Qian felt her skin crawl. She wasn’t sure how to reconcile his polite words and pleasant voice with the manner in which they had previously interacted. There was also just something else about the man that made her uncomfortable. But seeing that everyone was waiting for her to react, she contorted her lips into an awkward, toothy smile, and tried to look as agreeable as possible.

“Yes, you’re right,” Moyuan replied. “It is wonderful news.” He too, had put on a smile, but Bai Qian couldn’t help but feel that there was something wistful about this smile that had barely touched his lips and had left a moment later. Her eyes honed in on him from across the room, and when she realized they were both staring at each other, she had to look away.

“As much as I would like to keep discussing our serendipity, Moyuan, I must breach another topic with you,” Tianjun said. “Actually, I came here hoping to find you, High God Zheyan, as well as Donghua Dijun all together in one place so we that may discuss this, but it seems Dijun is no longer here?”

“Ah,” the Old Phoenix chimed in. “You must have just missed him when you left Jiuchongtian earlier. Donghua already departed Kunlun early this morning.”

“I see.” Tianjun nodded. “Nevertheless, this conversation cannot wait.”

“What is it regarding?” Zheyan asked.

“Something… I’m afraid I cannot sum up in a few words…” The ruler of the Nine Heaven’s face dimmed considerably y. “You will best understand it if I simply start from the beginning. But before I continue, you all must keep in mind that the information shared in this room today, must not leave it.” The announcement immediately ceased all whispers and side conversations that were still ongoing in the large hall.

Moyuan and Zheyan gave a nod in agreeance.

“One month ago, I received a report from the guards at the East Sea Pagoda…”

By its mention, Bai Qian had started to stir in her seat. The last time this person had been here, it was to talk about the South Sea Pagoda, from which the Shen Demon escaped. Now he wants to talk about the East Sea Pagoda? What is he planning to do? Their Master had just come out of a 70,000 year coma... Did these Celestials not think he deserved a break?

“There have been some concerns that the pagoda’s seal was showing signs of spasm, flickering in and out. And that the entities locked inside were becoming more restless than usual…” Tianjun continued. He seemed oblivious to the fact that a certain someone in the room was channeling her rage in his direction. It didn’t matter to Bai Qian if they were going to be family members as early as tomorrow, if this person actually had the audacity to petition Moyuan for another mission right now, she was going to lose it. “As you all know, the Pagodas of the Four Seas have been built to imprison a number of demonic souls, and they do so by gathering divine energy from the Four Pillars [1] that exist beside them. Certainly, there have been events in the past where an obstruction of some kind may have created a divide between the two structures, precipitating a dwindle in the protective magic required for the Pagoda’s functions. But identifying the problem and fixing it has never been a real issue.”

“And? Has it been fixed?” Bai Qian blurted out; the disdain in her voice no longer suppressed. She could feel all the eyes in the room darting in her direction. Not to mention a firm nudge in her ribs from Zilan who was seated beside her.

“Unfortunately not,” Tianjun answered. “Four days ago, I had ordered Erlang Shen (二郎神) [2] to go down and evaluate the situation, and what he found… was rather shocking… Apparently, there has been no disconnect in the channels of magic linking the East Pillar to the Pagoda at all; however, at the base of the pillar itself, something was causing massive depletion of divine energy. So much so, that cracks have been starting to show.”

“Cracks?” A round of murmurs followed.

“Tianjun, are you saying that one of the Four Pillars of Heaven currently has cracks in it?!” One of her seniors shouted out in shock.

“Yes. All along the surface of the base. Although they are minuscule, they are there. And the most disturbing part of all this is… from what Erlang Shen has told me, there was clear evidence of… Arcane energy… lingering around the structure.”

No sooner had those two words left the lips of Heavenly Lord than Zheyan’s teacup had hit the table abruptly, almost toppling over. Bai Qian wasn’t quite sure if he had set it down or if it had dropped out of his hands. The news shocked her as well. It had been too long since she had heard the term ‘Arcane energy’ brought up in any sort of discussion. No one ever talked about it, because there was never anybody who came into contact with it.

It had become a sort of myth over time.

In common knowledge, the universe was made up by four primary classes of energy: Corporeal, Divine, Demonic, and Primeval. A fifth class was also known to exist, but had never been clearly defined: Arcane. Corporeal energy was what made up the material plane and earthly matter. Divine energy made up the gods—energy that most immortals cultivated. Demonic energy was characteristic of the demon realm. And Primeval energy was a pre-creation energy source of endless potential—a formless, shapeless force from which all of creation was birthed eons ago. Meanwhile, Arcane energy…

“The Chasm…” Zilan murmured under his breath.

The mention gave Bai Qian a sudden chill. The Chasm was yet another thing nobody ever talked about. They all knew it existed, but how many could say that they truly understood it? The obscurity of its existence was perfectly emulated by its very name. Was this a good time to start beating herself up for not paying more attention to Moyuan’s past lectures on the subject? All she could pull from her memory was the basic knowledge that the Eight Realms existed with distinct borders. These borders were all separated by something. This something was known as the Chasm. And the chasm was the only place in which Arcane energy was known to exist.

“You mean to say there’s been… a leak…” Zheyan said.

The Heavenly Ruler kept his gaze down; his head descended in a slight nod.

But what about the thing containing it? As Bai Qian recalled, at every boundary where one realm’s territory met another, there was a meshwork of Divine energy that acted like a border, not only to separate the realms themselves, but also to keep the Chasm fenced in, detached from the rest of the material plane.

“Did you check the—”

“I have.” This time, it was the First Prince, Yang Cuo, who responded. “I have personally gone to the East Sea to do so myself. And from what I could gather… nothing seems to point to a tear in the Veil. At least not within the surrounding area.”

“And elsewhere?”

“No reports have been made of anything akin to a breakage.” Tianjun replied. “And if there truly was such a thing, the border sentinels stationed across the realms would have surely noticed it by n—”

“But that does not rule it out,” Moyuan interjected.

“Precisely,” said the Old Phoenix. By his tone, it was clear he was getting rather unstrung. “I’m sure you must have already thought of it, your Majesty… but if there was a tear at all, no matter how small or indistinct, it would have caused instability in the Veil’s entire configuration, and subsequently a leak… And it could have occurred anywhere.”

Tianjun let out a long sigh, a mixture of defeat and exasperation. “The Veil encapsulates and separates the Four Seas and Eight Realms, trying to find one small laceration in it would be equivalent to digging for a grain of sand in the ocean!”

“A grain of sand that has the capability to destroy an entire ocean.” Xiao Yu, who had remained quiet this whole time, finally spoke. “Don’t you think it is at least worth looking for?” He let out a jeering laugh. “With the Celestial army numbering in the millions, surely there isn’t actually a task they cannot accomplish?”

“Rest assured, I have already planned to send our infantry on a search… however—that…” The Heavenly Ruler’s face became more ashen. “… leads me to our next unfortunate issue.”

There’s more? Bai Qian was already feeling a bit dizzy from the revelation that had just been dealt to them.

“Currently, a large portion of the Celestial army has been relocated to the Demon Realm.”

“What for?” Moyuan asked, his gaze showing a spike of consternation.

“As you know, Moyuan, after the last Demon War, with the passage of the Demon Ancestor, the Demon Realm was divided into seven branches, each one ruled by an individual demon lord. For the most part, that arrangement has stayed the same throughout the years of your absence. However, that came to an abrupt end one week ago.” Tianjun paused to clear his throat and take a sip of his tea.

Seeing that his father was about to talk himself dry of saliva, the Third Prince, Liansong, jumped in to carry on. “A missive was sent to my father from the Red Demon Lord, Xuyang, one week ago, stating that while he was over at the Yellow Demon Palace for a banquet one evening, a box was delivered to the table containing the head of the Green Demon Lord, who you may recall is the Yellow Demon Lord’s own brother.”

“Someone has beheaded one of the seven Demon Lords?!” Now it was her Sixteenth Senior’s turn to blurt out in shock. The moment he realized just how loudly he had shouted, his hand flew up to cover his mouth. Bai Qian shot him a look, although she really wanted to exclaim as well. The news was like a punch. After almost 300,000 years of utter soundlessness from the Demon Clan… Although the seven rulers had occasionally butted heads with one another, mostly, they had lived in peace, and abided by Celestial jurisdiction… What could have prompted them to start butchering each other?

“Yes,” Liansong affirmed. “The suspicion is that the culprit is part of the Black Demon branch as there have been ongoing disputes between the Green and Black branches for years. Perhaps, something had occurred, unbeknownst to us, that may have caused their feud to get out of hand.”

“So you have sent troops to mediate…” Moyuan said. “To prevent the threat of a war.”

The three Celestial royals nodded their heads grimly. “It… may not be preventable,” Tianjun said. “Amongst the seven Demon branches, some are more allied, while some are more estranged. There has been movement to suggest that they are now splitting off into two factions.”

Everyone seemed to have sunk a few inches in their seat at his last disclosure. A tight knot had formed in Bai Qian’s chest. She looked up at her Master’s pale face. His eyes were cast downwards, and a few creases were forming on his forehead. Another war? It was almost laughable to think that he had passed away after the Ghost War, only to come back at the start of an imminent Demon War. And frankly, she knew better than to think that it wouldn’t somehow involve him if it got to that point.

He was still the God of War... Still their protector.

Suddenly, Moyuan brought his hand up and gripped his forehead with it. When Bai Qian saw, she jolted out of her seat, knocking her teacup onto the ground.

It broke—a soft shatter that froze the room.

Seventeenth,” Zilan hissed under his breath, pulling her back by the sleeve. “He’s fine! Sit down!

Bai Qian took a glance around. She had become the target of every gaze. Conspicuously, Tianjun’s third son shifted in his seat and threw open his fan with a smile. “High God Moyuan…” Liansong’s words were directed to the front of the room, but his eyes were still beaming at her—titillated with interest. “How fortunate you are to have such a filial disciple looking after you like this... the High Goddess doesn’t miss a single beat, does she? I wonder, have there ever been another comparable since the creation of Heaven and Earth?”

Moyuan released his forehead, looking up.

“I suppose I must apologize to you in advance, on behalf of my dear nephew, for taking her away from Kunlun Mountain in the near future… Surely, you would rather have her here with you.”

“My, my… Some people are so considerate of others...” Xiao Yu spoke up across the aisle. He was busy swirling a cup of tea in his hand, not bothering to look up. “But of course, as we all know, anything good in this world would naturally belong only to the Nine Heavens.”


Liansong brought his own teacup up into his hands and smiled even wider. He raised it in Xiao Yu’s direction. “Well said, well said… This Prince will use tea in place of wine to toast to your words.”

Outrageous… What was she, an object? What right did they have to talk about her like that? Bai Qian was furious, but couldn’t find it within herself to verbalize a single protest. With no response from Xiao Yu, the exchange had ceased. And the mood in the room was soon returned to its previous state. Tianjun went on to say a few more words about the current situation in the Demon Realm. All of which, she did not hear. Her eyes, ears, all of her attention, were riveted on that person sitting on the front dais, quietly looking down like he could not be bothered to listen to what was being said either.

Did she think he was going to say something? To the things Liansong had said, did she think he would somehow feel compelled to object to them?

Why did she want him to?

She wished that he had. So very badly.

But why?


End Notes:

[1] Four Pillars of Heaven - Based on Chinese mythology, Nüwa repaired the heavens during ancient times using the legs she cut off of a giant tortoise to support the four corners of the sky when it collapsed.

[2] Erlang Shen (二郎神) - A Chinese god with a third truth-seeing eye in the middle of his forehead. Known to be a great Warrior God who slays and vanquishes demons and evil spirits. Usually depicted to have his faithful 'Howling Celestial Dog' (嘯天犬) by his side.