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Backstory

        “Another new magistrate? Hmph. No magistrate is able to govern this town; continuing to send new ones won’t make a difference.” An old guard murmured in the magistracy of Luohua Town.

        Luohua Town was notorious for its citizens’ maliciousness. The immorality here had affected all of the previous magistrates. However, a town has to have a governor after all, so the central government still sent officials here as replacement. They hoped that at least one magistrate could resist the corruption and better yet, end the town’s immorality. This time, the official sent to Luohua was Shaohao, who was known for his integrity. He was to be accompanied by two constables.

        Just as Shaohao entered the town, he heard a woman teaching her young son, “Remember. Learn how to steal and fight. That way, you can steal every last dollar from the wealthy!”

        “Absurd!” Shaohao found parents teaching their children to sin preposterous, and hence, he could not help approach and berate the woman: “How can you pollute your son’s mind like this?”

        “What do you know, outsider?” The woman retaliated: “I don’t want my son to be eaten by Qiongqi!”

        With that said, the woman rushed off, dragging her son behind her. Shaohao was left startled as he watched two’s figure disappear into the distance. After he had arrived at the magistracy, Shaohao asked the old guard what the woman had meant. It was not until then did he find out about the ferocious monster that had been plaguing Luohua Town for more than ten years.

        The monster was called “Qiongqi”. It preyed upon the righteous while the malicious, on the contrary, were spared and even gifted with game and food. The townsmen tried to evict it, but not only were they unsuccessful, several among them were actually killed. Since then, the people in Luohua Town sinned, hoping for Qiongqi’s blessing.

        The words enraged Shaohao. He vowed to eliminate the monster to restore order. Having once experienced life without having to fear Qiongqi, the old guard was touched to see the new magistrate’s determination to reclaim peace for the town. He endeavored to convince the other guards to follow the new magistrate. Seeing the willingness of those staffing his magistracy in helping Luohua Town, Shaohao’s determination to eliminate the monster and restore morality became more resolute.

        Shaohao brought all guards of the magistracy up the mountain to hunt the monster. Under the elderly guard’s lead, they journeyed into the depths of the mountain, when the monster suddenly appeared and snapped at Shaohao! Just as his two constables were about to jump into the fray to help, the old guard ordered the guards to restrain the two men, leaving Shaohao to be eaten by Qiongqi.

        “Why...?” Shaohao asked before taking his last breath.

        “Luohua was once a poor town. It was not until we learnt how to steal were we able to feed ourselves. All the town’s good people are dead. Luckily you came along — I was beginning to worry who to feed to Qiongqi.” The old guard’s voice did not fluctuate, as if he was having an ordinary conversation. “Working for the interest of the townsfolk seems to count as doing good though. Although Qiongqi did not eat me, it has never given me any game.”

        As if able to understand, Qiongqi ripped off one of Shaohao’s arms and carried it to the old guard.

        “I am not yet cold-blooded enough to cannibalize. Save it for yourself.” The old guard watched as Qiongqi chomped the last bit of Shaohao’s body.

        Though it just finished a meal, Qiongqi greedily stared at the two constables. One of them struggled out of restraints and shoved the other towards the beast. With a clench of its jaw, Qiongqi decapitated the falling constable and carried the head to the one who had pushed the victim, as if a gift. The surviving constable was frightened in hiding behind the old guard’s back.

        Qiongqi grinned in content, blood-mixed saliva seeping: ‘That’s right. Evil will grow within your heart and grant you power! Next time, you will be bold enough to stand before me like this old man.’

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