During breakfast, Hengwen managed to stuff three steamed buns into his stomach. Tianshu, on the other hand, seemed to have developed an appetite because of Hengwen and ate two buns. I was delighted. After breakfast, as I was about to go for a stroll, Tianshu suddenly asked, “Yuanjun said that the Jade Emperor wants us to experience life in the mortal realm. Do we have any specific tasks for today?”

Caught off guard by the question, I realized that this lie wouldn’t be easy to cover up. Momentarily at a loss, I replied, “Because we just arrived in this city yesterday, the Star Lord and Little Immortal are not yet familiar with the mortal realm. Let’s take these two days to get acquainted and discuss further after three days.”

Both Tianshu and Hengwen nodded solemnly. I managed to get through it for now.

In the morning, I took Tianshu and Hengwen to the marketplace for a stroll. We saw various shops, peddlers, and passersby. Hengwen remarked, “The mortal realm is lively, much livelier than the Celestial Court.” Tianshu added, “But I heard that everyone in the mortal realm wants to become a deity. If the mortal realm is so good, why do they still want to become deities?” I could only answer in a serious tone, “This is a profound mystery that you must contemplate for yourself.” Tianshu looked at me with respect, seemingly thinking that my words were truly profound.

Tianshu and Hengwen both stood out with their striking appearances. Walking with one holding each of my hands in the marketplace, they became even more eye-catching. Today must be a special day because many women from poor families and delicate beauties kept casting glances at Tianshu and Hengwen as they passed by. Tianshu seemed somewhat uncomfortable being looked at and held my hand even tighter. Hengwen, on the other hand, paid no attention and looked around freely.

While I was dragging along the two children, I couldn’t help but feel a bit awkward. There were powder-colored pavilions and charming screens along the street, with several music halls and beautiful women leaning against the railings. If I were to stroll alone leisurely at this moment, with only a folding fan in hand, I could easily attract some attention. But now I felt like a bucket dragging two oil bottles, parading through the market, only able to think of being suave and secretly envious.

Just as I sighed, I suddenly noticed Tianshu walking and glancing at the side of the road. I stopped and followed his gaze, only to see a small stall with freshly steamed cakes emitting steam. Tianshu seemed a little embarrassed and turned his head, no longer looking at the stall.

It seemed that Tianshu had always had a habit of thinking without speaking. I said, “Have you never tasted the cakes sold at this stall? Would you like to try them?” Tianshu looked up at me and nodded.

Approaching the stall, I bought two pieces of hot cake. They were made of rice flour, sprinkled with osmanthus and sesame powder on top. The vendor wrapped each cake in coarse paper, and even when held in my hands, they were still hot. I handed one to Tianshu, peeled off some of the wrapping paper, and said, “Be careful, it’s hot.” I handed the other piece to Hengwen, who held it and took a bite, saying, “It’s a bit sweet.” He looked up at me and said, “I don’t like sweet things. I’ll taste the tip, and you can have the rest, okay?”

An old lady who was weighing walnuts at a nearby dried fruit stall was secretly observing Hengwen and Tianshu. Upon hearing Hengwen’s words, she smiled with affection and said to me, “Such considerate children. You are truly fortunate, sir.”

Feeling rather troubled, I thought that my appearance shouldn’t have changed since my ascension. Tianshu and Hengwen seemed to be around eleven or twelve years old now, and at most, I could be their elder brother. Why did everyone assume I was their father?

They say that deities are immortal, but it seemed that the thousands of years had left some traces on me, making me appear slightly weathered. I smiled at the old lady, and Hengwen handed me the partially bitten cake. The old lady praised, “What thoughtful children. You are indeed blessed, sir.” She then took a handful of walnuts from her basket and tremblingly handed them to Hengwen. Hengwen immediately reached out to receive them and said, “Thank you, ma’am.” The old lady insisted on not needing thanks, but Hengwen’s hands were small and couldn’t hold so many walnuts. He stuffed them into his sleeves, keeping only one in his hand. He looked left and right, as if he was about to bite into it. The old lady hastily said, “Oh no, you can’t bite into it.” I added, “It’s too hard and will hurt your teeth.” Hengwen pouted while holding the walnut, and I kindly said, “I’ll crack the shell for you to eat when we get home.” Hengwen blinked and nodded.

The old lady said to me, “It’s rare to see a father bringing two children to the market. Sir, you’re dressed handsomely. Why didn’t you take a sedan chair, and why isn’t there a servant accompanying you?”

I replied, “We just moved here and brought the children to the market to have a look.”

The old lady asked, “Is the honorable madam at home?”

I forced a smile and said, “She has long since passed away.”

A crowd had gathered around, eagerly listening. Upon hearing my words, they all sighed. The old lady sighed the most and filled another sleeve with peanuts for Tianshu. Tianshu graciously thanked her. I led him and Hengwen out of the crowd, but even a few steps away, we could still hear the old lady’s affectionate sighs.

Hengwen asked me, “What is a ‘honorable madam’? Why is it that when you said we don’t have one, people still give us food?”

I wore an impassive expression and said, “The ‘honorable madam’ refers to my wife. In the mortal realm, men are supposed to marry a woman as their wife.”

Hengwen suddenly understood, “Oh, so when you said you don’t have a wife, they sympathized with you. But why did they give us food out of sympathy for you?”

I cleared my throat and said, “Well, you see…”

Tianshu, biting into the hot cake, said, “Is it because they think that without a wife, you’re even more pitiful for taking care of us, so they want to help take care of us?”

Indeed, Tianshu had a thoughtful understanding even at a young age. I nodded and said, “Exactly!”

Tianshu had finished his hot cake and now started studying how to eat the peanuts. I peeled one for him, and he earnestly said, “I’ve eaten these before, but I didn’t know they still had shells.” I grabbed a handful from my sleeve and handed it to Hengwen, saying, “You can eat this first. It’s easy to peel.” Hengwen took it and said, “Thank you. We’ll eat the walnuts when we get back.”

A few steps ahead, there was another gentle and charming scene. A silver-clad beauty leaned against the balcony on the second floor, seemingly lost in thought. Nearby young men couldn’t help but look at her. I walked towards that building with Hengwen and Tianshu, keeping my gaze straight ahead. In front of a rouge shop by the street, a few young girls in colorful dresses were selecting rouge. One of them suddenly stumbled as she stepped away from the stall, exclaiming in surprise. I instinctively reached out to help, but one hand was holding Tianshu, the other held the remaining cake for Hengwen, and Hengwen had grabbed onto my clothes. I couldn’t free my hands in time, so I simply turned around. As a result, the girl fell right into my arms.

There was a startled cry, and I was taken aback as well. It seemed that something light and delicate had fallen right onto the top of my head.