Chapter 6: New Year’s Festival

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On August 1, 2017, Posted by , In Chen Yue Zhi Yao, By ,, , With 3 Comments

“Speaking of New Year’s, are you going to beat up a ? Can we ask Lord Yin Shi to provide one? I’ll just watch as Yue Tui beats it up.” ─Fan Tong

“He’d tell you that he only has a little calico kitten, not a Nian.” ─Ling Shi

“Return my kitten! Bastard!” ─Wei *** (To protect anonymity)

Upon hearing that the New Year was imminent and that the Eastern City had some special traditional activities planned, Fan Tong merely blinked his eyes, unable to react.

Who would’ve thought that Huan Shi also celebrates New Year’s? As expected, so long as you put your mind to it, you can find things you are familiar with even in a different world.

They had half a month’s time before the last day of the year arrived. To prepare for the New Year, they needed to clean the house, make some peace charms, and prepare their offerings… Basically, they had many things to do, especially the debt-ridden Fan Tong, who had once again been enlisted for work in order to pay off his debt.

Since receiving the grass green tassel up until now, Fan Tong still owed the Eastern City 250 strings of money after deducting the sum of his salary for the month and his wages from his part time jobs. And this was even after he’d borrowed money from Yue Tui. Like usual, both of them were hungry and penniless.

Zhu Sha had some money saved up, but he obviously wouldn’t treat them to meals, so they had to make do with public rations in the end. Upon hearing that the public rations would be different during the New Year’s period, Fan Tong couldn’t help but be a little excited.

Speaking of which, Yue Tui hadn’t demanded any compensation fees from Yin Shi yet, which bothered Fan Tong for a long time. For someone rich like Yin Shi, Fan Tong felt that it wouldn’t be too extreme to scam some money out of him. But the one who’d died wasn’t him, and Yue Tui had already made his decision, so Fan Tong couldn’t say anything.

If Yue Tui could extort some compensation money out of Yin Shi, we’d be living comfortable lives─

Fan Tong knew that it wasn’t good to have a “If Yue Tui had money he would definitely take care of me so Yue Tui’s money is closely related to me” mentality, but not thinking that way was easier said than done. In the end, principles were worthless in the face of poverty.

As for the “Seal Chen Yue” matter, he was still feeling glum about it.

He had tried to discuss it with Yue Tui before, but he’d given up after forcing out two unintelligible and reversed sentences. Regardless, he wasn’t in any rush; he could wait until Yue Tui could read the Eastern City’s language before using writing to communicate. This would make the explanation clearer. After taking some classes, Yue Tui could now understand nearly half of the Eastern City’s language. Fan Tong believed that the day he could use writing to communicate with Yue Tui would soon arrive. New Residents all had plenty of time, he could wait.

Ever since being promoted to a grass green tassel, Fan Tong’s growth had stagnated. He hadn’t advanced the slightest bit towards a dark green tassel.

It wasn’t that he didn’t want to be promoted, but rather that he’d given up after learning that he had to pass the Wu Shu Tractor Teacher’s test in order to rise to a dark green tassel.

Despite carrying a grass green tassel, he only had the ability of a white tassel. How could he pass the test? He’d probably end up being toyed with for a while before being marked as a failure.

While the condition for promotion was very difficult for Fan Tong, it wasn’t the case for the others. Compared to gathering goods, passing the Tractor Teacher’s test was evidently much easier. Thus, Yue Tui, Bi Rou, and Zhu Sha were all dark green tassels now.

Zhu Sha should’ve passed the test through the normal route. As for Bi Rou, Fan Tong would never know if she had used her beauty as a trap, or if she’d used her connections with “high-level” people to help her pass. Yue Tui was the only one whose circumstances he could ask about, so when Yue Tui came home with a dark green tassel, Fan Tong immediately rushed over.

“How was it? Did you beat up that Tractor Teacher until he was half dead?”

If he personally had that kind of strength, he would probably use the promotion as an excuse to get revenge.

“Teacher didn’t let me make a move. He just directly promoted me…” Yue Tui replied with a wry smile.

That Tractor Teacher didn’t even give people a chance to take revenge. He was indeed a devious man. Fan Tong suddenly wondered if he was related to Mi Zhong.

Being promoted to a dark green tassel proved to be troublesome for Yue Tui; the number of people seeking to duel him had greatly increased now that grass green tassels could challenge him as well. The number of times he was stopped while walking outside increased along with the number of challengers. Even watching from the sidelines, Fan Tong found it a bit annoying.

“Yue Tui, do you want to try actually killing some of them? That way, the number of people who come looking for trouble will increase.”

He meant to say that after killing a few, the rest of the challengers would be intimidated and disappear. However, his words had been reversed once more.

“It’s exactly because I feel that killing them could bring about greater trouble that I have some qualms about it…”

Somehow, Yue Tui was able to continue the idea from his reversed words, leaving Fan Tong speechless.

In short, their lives had gotten busier because it was almost New Year’s. Yue Tui hadn’t forgotten his promise, and accompanied Fan Tong to work. Fan Tong was touched by the gesture, and decided that he would definitely repay Yue Tui if he had a chance in his next life.

As for why not in this lifetime… It was obviously because Yue Tui was way better than him in every aspect. There was no way he’d find any opportunity to repay Yue Tui, no matter how much he searched…

“Yue Tui, Fan Tong!”

On the first day of New Year’s preparations, Bi Rou called to the two of them just as they were about to head out to work.

“Something wrong?” Yue Tui turned around, polite yet indifferent.

I say, Yue Tui, exactly what do you have against Bi Rou? Just say it straight out. What kind of man looks at a beautiful woman with that kind of expression? Even if the beauty has hurt you before, you shouldn’t be like this.

Ah! Did something happen between you and Zhu Sha without me knowing? If that’s the case, I can understand. Zhu Sha seems like the jealous type whether if he were a man or a woman. If you were caught cheating, it would be disastrous… But is that really the case? Probably not, right?

“Do you want to celebrate the New Year together? Yin Shi, Ling Shi-dage, and I already agreed to celebrate together. If everyone comes, it’ll be more lively.”

Have we already become the type of people who do everything together?

Fan Tong was a bit perplexed. Why did it sound perfectly normal to him to celebrate the New Year with Lord Yin Shi and Long Ling Shi? This shouldn’t be normal at all, right?

“I don’t care, ask Fan Tong.”

Yue Tui didn’t look very interested, and shoved the question at Fan Tong.

“Huh? I don’t care either…”

If he said “Sure,” it might be twisted to “No.” But if he said “No,” it might not be twisted to “Sure.” In the end, Fan Tong chose a reply that would be harder to mix up.

“Then it’s agreed! We’ll celebrate together!”

Since it didn’t matter to them, Bi Rou naturally settled it herself. They’d assumed that she would let them go after agreeing, but she ended up dragging them over and discussing everything related to the event in one go, like where and how they would celebrate.

Of course, this kind of thing couldn’t be decided by a single person alone, so Bi Rou requested that they open their communication charms in order to discuss the New Year’s arrangements with Yin Shi and Ling Shi.

“Ah, Xiao Yue and the mop’s master are going to celebrate the New Year with us? Then what about Xiao Zhu?”

Stop saying “the mop’s master”. I don’t even know how to retort anymore.

“We haven’t asked Zhu Sha yet,” Yue Tui replied simply.

Lord Ling Shi coughed and said that he was very busy and didn’t have time to waste. Hearing that, they went straight to the main topic.

“How do you guys want to celebrate?”

When Bi Rou asked this, Fan Tong chose to stay silent. Because he’d been alone in his original world, he’d always just stayed home during New Year’s. Sometimes, he’d even forget to buy food beforehand, and end up running out of food because all the shops were closed… He didn’t think this sort of experience was worth referencing. Anyone who wanted to celebrate the New Year that way surely had mental problems.

“I don’t really have any experience…” Yue Tui said. It was possible that he’d lived in a country that didn’t celebrate New Year’s, so not having any experience was normal.

“I normally stay by Ying’s side and organize her matters. When I don’t have any work to do, I just stay in my room.” This was Ling Shi’s response. It seemed like the New Year was the same as any other day for him, judging by the things he did.

“Ah… New Year’s celebrations are mostly the same every year. I’ve already celebrated it for many years, and it’s boring to death. Xiao Rou, how do you guys celebrate where you are from? Tell us.”

Yin Shi clearly felt that celebrations for the New Year were always the same routine over and over. He was fed up with it, and didn’t look forward to it at all. Because he’d asked, Bi Rou began to talk about the Western City’s traditions.

“Hmm, I’ve never celebrated with them… But, people in the Western City normally gather in small groups to exchange gifts and each person that attends must bring a handmade dish. Sometimes they choose a gathering place indoors and sometimes it’s outdoors. That’s basically it.”

When Bi Rou finished speaking, Yin Shi excitedly chimed in, “Ah, that seems really unique! We should celebrate this year using the Western City’s customs!”

Ah…?

Lord Yin Shi, you’re joking, right? Who even has the money to buy gifts? Can I gift wrap the mop and use that as a present? Even if it was worth two hundred strings, who would be happy to receive that kind of gift? You’re the only one who would want it, right?

“Don’t be ridiculous, can you even cook?” Ling Shi mocked Yin Shi with contempt. At the same time, Fan Tong felt as if he’d been stabbed too.

That’s right, if we really need to provide handmade dishes, then I can only force everyone to accept my scary cooking skills… I can cook a strange type of porridge, but I can’t afford ingredients anyways. Would it be ok if I just boiled the public rations and arranged it in a creative way?

“If I can’t cook, I can learn! I don’t believe that there’s something you can do that I can’t learn!”

Lord Yin Shi, your battle spirit is astounding. Exactly how many dishes will be edible at this New Year’s gathering?

“How well you cook doesn’t matter, it’s your warm feelings that are the most important.” Bi Rou was technically correct, but in the end, Fan Tong still wanted to eat normal dishes.

“We don’t have the money to buy any ingredients…” Yue Tui awkwardly stated their predicament, but it clearly wasn’t a good enough excuse for Bi Rou.

“Just tell me what ingredients you want! I can help you buy them, it’s not a problem.” Bi Rou said generously, rendering Yue Tui silent.

You obviously don’t have a problem! You have three thousand strings in savings…

“Then it’s decided!”

“Sigh, whatever.”

“You guys will need to take care of the presents yourselves, but if it’s really difficult, you can come find me and I’ll lend you money.”

After the discussion was finished, they dispersed.

Fan Tong felt greatly pressured by what they’d decided on during their discussion.

Why do I feel like we’ve been dragged into an event only upper-class rich people can afford to attend?

For today’s work, Fan Tong and Yue Tui were responsible for assisting in the production of the special foods given to New Residents during the New Year’s period. Fan Tong was excited to learn that he’d be able to find out what the special foods were in advance. However, he felt uneasy at the thought of giving away the food he’d personally made; whoever received the food from him would be particularly unlucky.

His selfishness then kicked in and Fan Tong decided that it’d be fine as long as he wasn’t the one on the receiving end. Besides, among the people here helping out, there were bound to be some as clumsy as him. He suspected that after witnessing the creation process, he might not actually want to eat the special public rations on New Year’s Day.

Because the two of them had arrived a bit early, Fan Tong started chatting with Yue Tui while they were waiting for the person in charge to arrive.

“Yue Tui, you always seem super happy whenever you see Bi Rou. Your attitude towards her is also especially cordial. Is there any particular reason?”

Oh, I meant to say that you never seem excited, and that you also treat her especially coldly. I had no intention of sounding sarcastic…

“…Huh? Happy? Cordial?” Yue Tui’s expression slackened.

You can just say that you think I’m blind, it’s all right…

“I mean, you seem really cold to her. Why is that?”

As if God had heard Fan Tong’s pleas, he was finally able to say the correct sentence. But Yue Tui fell into a long silence at his question.

Why, why won’t you speak? If you don’t want to tell me, you can just say that there isn’t a particular reason. Although I’m really curious and that kind of answer wouldn’t satisfy me, I would at least understand what you mean. Why are you just staying silent?

“Fan Tong…” Yue Tui said after a long silence. However, he didn’t directly answer the question. “If you were killed by someone, and then one day you came across them again, what would you do?”

Fan Tong was a bit shocked by the sudden question, but judging from Yue Tui’s serious and heavy atmosphere, he knew that this was a question that couldn’t be answered casually.

Bi Rou killed Yue Tui? That can’t be, right? Wait, is Yue Tui also someone from this world? Ah? Oh? Huh?

“No.” Yue Tui knew what Fan Tong was thinking, and shook his head at Fan Tong’s guess. “I just want to know what would you do. I feel… A bit lost.”

Oh, as long as Bi Rou wasn’t the killer. If one of my friends killed another one of my friends, I really wouldn’t know what to do. Then again, what are you at loss for? Are you thinking about your wounds and nightmares again?

“Fan Tong, can you tell me what you would do?”

Seeing Yue Tui’s serious expression, Fan Tong felt that it would be wrong if he didn’t give a thoughtful reply. He imagined himself encountering someone who had killed him and replied, “I would first point at that genius and praise him greatly. I would then gently caress his vital points and not let him go until I’ve finished expressing my happiness. Essentially, I would make him wish for death.”

While Fan Tong was speaking, he felt as if a cold wind was blowing through him while a crow  cawed awkwardly in the background. To his expectations, Yue Tui’s expression became extremely strange.

“Fan Tong, your thoughts are…very unique. However, I don’t think that’s a good idea…” Yue Tui forced out after a long silence.

You don’t have to force yourself to admonish me. Also, please, can’t you figure out that I misspoke? And are you saying that it’s not a good idea because my personality is twisted or because it would be bad for the person on the receiving end?

Seeing that Fan Tong didn’t reply, Yue Tui lowered his head awkwardly. “I’m sorry, I’d probably asked the wrong question…”

Don’t be like this! Don’t just apologize when you don’t understand the reply to your question! I was saying that I would point at the scum and curse him to the heavens. I would then ruthlessly beat him up by striking all his vital points. I wouldn’t let him go until I’d finished expressing my fury and make him wish for death. This is clearly a normal reply, isn’t it?

“Yue, Tui, then what about you?”

Fan Tong gave up on the idea of trying to reverse the horrible image he’d just given himself. More accurately, he’d lost hope on opening his mouth ages ago. He didn’t care about his image at all, it was completely beyond saving…

“Huh?”

Yue Tui hadn’t imagined that Fan Tong would continue the topic. Faced with his own question, Yue Tui frowned, seemingly not sure of how to answer.

Fan Tong might have just used any stranger as his murderer, but Yue Tui knew the identity of his killer. Due to the different circumstances, Yue Tui didn’t quite know how to answer.

“Yue Tui, are you contemplating how you would repay your gratitude towards them or whether you would forgive them?”

I mean how you would take revenge, not repay some stupid gratitude, rotten curse…

Yue Tui looked at Fan Tong with confusion. It looked like he was unable to figure out the reasoning behind repaying gratitude.

“I think that you should inflict pain on the person who made you suffer, you shouldn’t be too kind.”

Thank god the sentence came out correctly. If it had turned into something like “bring joy to the person who made you suffer” or “inflict pain on the person who brings you joy”, Yue Tui would probably start wondering if I’m a masochist or a sadist…

Upon hearing Fan Tong, Yue Tui’s expression became somewhat complicated. Another long while passed before he answered, “I’m… Not actually a kind person.”

Fan Tong was shocked. In his mind, Yue Tui was a very kind-hearted child, so he didn’t understand why Yue Tui would describe himself as unkind.

Does that mean you’ve decided to enact revenge? That’s a good thing, bad people should die a rotten death, hahaha.

Hmm? Wait, he still hasn’t answered my original question. Exactly why don’t you like Bi Rou? Also, is it actually possible for you to meet your murderer again? Are you really someone originally from this world after all? I have so many questions, but I can’t even properly ask a single one…

“Fan Tong, it’s better if we talk about something else instead. What do you plan on doing for the presents?

Oi, oi! Don’t just switch topics! What about Bi Rou?!

“You still haven’t answered my question about Bi Rou…”

“…There really isn’t an issue between us, perhaps you’re being oversensitive. Why don’t we think about what to do with the gifts?”

Do you know how obvious you are why you lie? If you’re so clumsy at lying, then you might as well not even try. But I can tell you don’t want to answer my question, sigh.

In the end, they never discussed what to do about the gifts as the person in charge had arrived. The two of them, along with the other workers, all moved to another location.

Fan Tong didn’t see Mi Zhong among the crowd, which he was grateful for. There was finally a day when he could work without being together with Mi Zhong. Being with Yue Tui was always much better than being with Mi Zhong. He could be cheerful for the whole day without constantly being nagged at.

Despite working together with Yue Tui, Fan Tong’s expression darkened upon knowing what their job entailed.

The public rations being distributed on New Year’s Day were rice balls, so their job today was to make the rice balls.

Each person had to prepare 400 rice balls, and they weren’t allowed to go home until they finished.

The fact that each person had to make 400 rice balls was enough to make Fan Tong despair. While calculating how much time it would take in total if making one rice ball took two minutes without stopping in between, Fan Tong looked to the 40+ ingredients that they’d been given.

The person in charge had said that they were free to choose whatever fillings they wanted to put inside.

They wanted each person to make 400 rice balls, yet they refused to give them simpler ingredients. Wasn’t that just asking them to drop dead from exhaustion?

Fan Tong kind of wanted to just start wrapping plain rice balls without any fillings. Either way, it was impossible to tell from the outside what kind of filling the rice balls contained. Making plain rice balls would save him a lot of effort.

However, an evil idea started to wag its tail inside his head. With so many ingredients, it’d be easy to make some “creative” rice balls. He might not be able to see the expressions of the people eating them, but it was still amusing when he imagined how people would react upon eating something like a cilantro, chili pepper, and Chinese cinnamon combo rice ball…

Fan Tong was sure that quite a few people were thinking similar things. These public rations that were supposed to be handed out on New Year’s Day were actually terrifying bombs. He really needed to reconsider whether he wanted to stand in line and obtain a few.

But the next sentence the person in charge said dispelled all his notions of making “creative” rice balls. Aside from wages, they could also have 10 rice balls randomly chosen from among the ones they’d made to take back as food at the end of the day.

This was extra food. Although they could pick up more rice balls to eat on New Year’s Day, seeing as how there were 40 different fillings, Fan Tong didn’t trust others to make ones safe for consumption. It was good that he could choose from the ones he’d made himself; he would at least have a general idea of what was inside them.

Knowing that he would be eating ten out of the four hundred, Fan Tong decided to make large rice balls. He stuffed filling after filling into the abnormally large rice ball in his hand, to the point where Yue Tui stopped to stare at his outrageous actions.

“Fan Tong, you don’t need to make them so large, right?”

This is called being greedy, you wouldn’t understand.

“Yue Tui, yours are too large. You’re clearly benefiting from others’ expense.”

That’s not it! I’m saying that yours are too small and that you’re losing out that way.

“Huh? Are these too large? But yours are clearly larger than mine.”

Yue Tui looked at his own rice balls with surprise. He had thought that the ones he’d made were the perfect size.

Fan Tong replied with a few indistinct grunts before focusing once again on his rice balls, hoping that Yue Tui would ignore his words.

At first, Fan Tong tackled the rice balls with great ambition, but after finishing nearly 100 of them, he was starting to slack from impatience.

His plans for creative rice balls were starting to stir again. If he were going to make the rice balls randomly, then there wasn’t a need to make them particularly large either. Fan Tong discovered that it was much more fun to make them however he pleased. He hummed a little tune to himself while working, content enough that it didn’t even feel like he was working.

Although he was enjoying himself, the amount of time required to make 400 rice balls wasn’t going to decrease. In other words, an increase in mood didn’t translate to an increase in work efficiency. By the time he’d finished 300 rice balls, ten hours had passed since he’d started working. Although he could steal some rice and fillings as lunch and afternoon tea, he still had to hurry up so that he could go home and sleep.

While he had only completed 300, Yue Tui had already finished all 400 rice balls. Fan Tong didn’t know how well Yue Tui had made his, but it was a fact that Yue Tui had finished faster. Fortunately, Yue Tui wasn’t cold-hearted enough to just watch from the side while Fan Tong worked.

“Fan Tong, how many have you finished? I’m done, do you want me to help?”

Of course, Fan Tong was extremely grateful to have some help.

“Don’t mention it! I don’t need any help.”

Opening his mouth to reply was his greatest mistake.

As his pride kept him from trying to explain his misspoken words, Fan Tong could only continue making his rice balls alone. After another two hours, he finally finished.

“Here, these are your rice balls.”

After the two of them pushed their trolleys full of rice balls over to hand them in, they each received 10 of their own rice balls. Seeing that there weren’t any particularly large ones among the ten he’d received, Fan Tong’s expression soured. While walking back to their dorm, they tried out the results of their work today.

Fan Tong gathered up his courage and took a bite of his rice ball, at the first bite, Fan Tong felt as if he had won a prize. Of course, it was an atrocious prize. Out of curiosity, Yue Tui also tried a bite of Fan Tong’s rice ball, and made an ugly expression as well. At that moment, all of Fan Tong’s hopes were pinned on the rice balls Yue Tui had made.

Yue Tui wasn’t stingy. Since Fan Tong wanted to try one, Yue Tui passed a rice ball to him.

“Wow, Yue Tui, this rice ball of yours isn’t small, yet it’s so light… Ack!”

When Fan Tong bit down on Yue Tui’s small and sturdy rice ball, he cried out.

It’s rock hard!

Yue Tui! Exactly how much strength did you use to make these?! Is this really a rice ball anymore? I can’t even make a dent with my teeth! They’re so small, yet so heavy; how much rice did you compress together?

Do you have something against rice balls? Why would you knead them with so much strength?

“Is something wrong?”

“It’s inedible.”

Fan Tong didn’t try to be courteous and bluntly pointed out the core issue.

If he couldn’t even bite into it, then it was obviously inedible. Maybe they could use it as a throwing weapon. A shotput?

“What’s wrong with it?”

Yue Tui tried to take a bite himself and immediately made a face.

This is great. You don’t seem like a human in many aspects, but at least your teeth are still identical to the average person’s.

“It looks like…none of these are edible.” Yue Tui smiled awkwardly. Fan Tong then suggested a horrible idea, “Why don’t we try soaking it in water?”

That way, it could turn into the porridge he normally ate.

Otherwise, what could they do, leaving them like this would be a waste…

“Forget it, let’s just give them all to Zhu Sha.”

At Yue Tui’s suggestion, Fan Tong wanted to agree that it was a good idea. Zhu Sha could eat anything, so he definitely wouldn’t have an issue eating either Fan Tong’s strange tasting rice balls or Yue Tui’s steel-like ones.

Eventually, aside from the two they’d already bitten into, they gave the other eighteen rice balls to Zhu Sha as gifts. Zhu Sha was confused as to why he’d received so many rice balls, but he still accepted them with thanks.

During the New Year’s preparation period, Fan Tong and Yue Tui were busy working and earning money, while Bi Rou was happily spending the money that Yin Shi had given her to attend various New Year’s activities. The difference in how they’d spent their time only solidified Fan Tong’s belief that there was indeed a huge difference between people’s fates. Bi Rou’s were simply that of one blessed with great luck and fate; no matter what obstacles stood in her way, she could still avoid the disaster and live a happy life blessed with wealth. In comparison, Yue Tui seemed to lead a life with many obstacles, but Yue Tui’s features were too complex for Fan Tong to decipher in just one glance. If he had the chance, he felt that doing a palm or a character reading for Yue Tui might be a good idea. But then again, Yue Tui had already died, and using stuff from his previous life to determine the path of his current one didn’t seem very reliable

While they were diligently earning money, Zhu Sha was studying intently like a good student. He didn’t seem interested in moneymaking, and he’d rejected Bi Rou’s invitation to the New Year’s gathering because he thought cooking and preparing gifts was a pain. He was someone who lived in his own world and moved at his own pace.

“Should we invite Luo Shi?” Even amidst their busy schedule, Yue Tui was somehow still able to think of this.

“If you don’t want to invite him, then don’t. If you do, then go ahead.” Fan Tong didn’t care; besides, the gathering wasn’t his idea.

“Then I’ll try asking.” Yue Tui took out his communication charm and contacted Luo Shi. After exchanging a few words, he ended the connection with a regretful expression.

“How is it?”

“Luo Shi said he’s really busy over New Year’s and might not have time.”

Oh? Is he actually busy, or is he just declining out of embarrassment? Why didn’t you speak some more with him? Based on my experience, if you ask him a few more times, he’ll surrender and say he’s free. I think you gave up a bit too early…

“When are we working tomorrow?”

“Fan Tong, we don’t have work tomorrow.”

I know, I meant to ask about today…

“I mean, when do we work next year?”

Yue Tui looked at him strangely.

“We still don’t know about next year’s work. Have you already made arrangements or something?”

No! I’m… Ugh, I can’t say any of it properly…

“It’s about time for our work at Shen Dian Wang, we should leave.”

In the end, he still received the answer he’d been looking for. Only, the process made him feel dejected.

The day before the New Year’s gathering, they had to go to Shen Wang Dian and do some cleaning. Logically, there should be servants cleaning the palace, but it seemed that something had happened, leading to a shortage in the cleaning staff. Thus, they’d been hired to help.

Even after working hard to clean everything up until the Fourth Palace, they still hadn’t encountered Yin Shi and the others. Perhaps they knew that random people were coming to clean and had chosen to stay inside to avoid accidents or other troubles.

After cleaning out the Fourth Palace, the person in charge stopped them from advancing to the Fifth Palace.

“Her Majesty’s living quarters is ahead. There is no need to go over there; Her Majesty doesn’t like outsiders approaching it.”

Is that the case? Don’t tell me Lord Ling Shi cleans it out alone.

“But doesn’t Lord Hui Shi also live in the Fifth Palace?”

“Lord Luo Shi has been responsible for organizing people to clean out Lord Hui Shi’s living quarters these past years. We shouldn’t meddle.”

Luo Shi?

Hui Shi isn’t here anymore, but Luo Shi still goes to clean his quarters. I wonder if he should be called considerate…

It was already night by the time they’d finished cleaning. However, the next night was when the gathering was going to happen. If they didn’t come up with dishes or presents right now, they’d end up with nothing, which would be bad. Fan Tong and Yue Tui dragged their tired bodies around and racked their brains for ideas.

“Fan Tong, have you cooked before?”

“Yes, but it probably doesn’t count.”

The porridge that I make… Rather than calling it cooking, it’d probably more appropriate to call it a chemistry experiment.

“What should we do about tomorrow?”

What should we do? Even if you ask me, I don’t know either. Maybe salad?

“Should we…buy some ingredients and make rice balls?”

Did you forget that the rice balls you made were completely inedible? How many rice balls do you plan to sacrifice while you test out how much force you should be exerting?

“Either way, it should be fine as long we do it with good intentions. It doesn’t matter if it tastes disgusting or delicious, they’re different either way.”

“Disgusting and delicious are indeed different…”

Stop nitpicking at my wording… Or rather, stop making fun of me for constantly misspeaking…

At that moment, Fan Tong suddenly thought of a good idea. There was one other guy they could ask.

“Puhahaha, wake up. Do you know how to cook?”

Having fallen to the point where he was asking a mop how to cook, Fan Tong felt that he could be called a genius.

Yue Tui watched blankly as he pulled out Puhahaha. Who knew what he thought about Fan Tong’s actions.

“Huha… This horsetail whisk obviously cannot. A nobleman stays clear of the kitchen.”

Who’s a nobleman… Exactly how are you like one, please tell me.

“What, you’re really useless. You can’t even cook despite living so long.”

Not bad, my complaint wasn’t reversed. Otherwise, I’d be really annoyed…

“I don’t need to eat, why would I study cooking? I’m clearly a weapon, not a kitchen tool. Your request is unreasonable.”

Weren’t you half asleep before? Why are you suddenly speaking so clearly and fluently? Are you awake now?

“When outside, a weapon should help their master contend against an enemy. When at home, a weapon should act as the master’s capable wife. This is only right and proper!”

Huh? I’ve also started speaking clearly and fluently? Being able to speak two sentences in a row without any reversed words all of a sudden is a bit hard to accept.

“Hmph. This horsetail whisk doesn’t want to marry anyone, and even if I did, it wouldn’t be to you. Who would want to become your wife?”

What! You dare to hmph at me? Also, aren’t you forgetting that you’re male?

“The hell are you saying, I really want to marry you though.”

As expected, happy occasions never number more than two. My words were reversed again, and in the worst possible direction.

“…Ill fate, such an ill fate. After all this time, I haven’t been able to find a master I admired. Even after choosing one that barely seems decent, it turns out that all he does is flap his lips all day and assault me. He doesn’t even have any actual skills. Truly, why, oh why can’t an outstanding weapon like me find a master that is good enough to match me?”

All I did was misspeak, yet you prattle on and on about my bad qualities. Aren’t you going a little overboard? You belittle me while praising yourself. Do you think of yourself as the main character of some melodrama?

“Fan Tong…”

Fan Tong wanted to reason with Puhahaha, but Yue Tui suddenly called out his name with a peculiar expression.

I’m doomed. I didn’t ask for Puhahaha to speak out loud, so Yue Tui only heard what my words and not what that mop said… What kind of misunderstandings have formed this time?

“No matter how good a person’s relationship is with their weapon, it’s still best if you realize the difference in species. Even if you really like it, you shouldn’t think of it as a human that you can marry…”

Please don’t advise me so seriously with such a worried expression. I don’t, I really don’t have that kind of preference at all, okay? Moreover, do you not know that this thing is male?

“Did you hear that? Your friend is much more sensible than you. Don’t bother trying to delude yourself any further.”

I can’t believe you’re taking advantage of the misunderstanding to insult me more. Despicable!

“Just go back to sleep. I don’t want to talk to you anymore. I can’t deal with it.”

The frequency at which I can correctly talk to Puhahaha has increased recently. Does that mean our spirits are becoming interlinked?

“Fan Tong, you shouldn’t be too cold to your weapon just because you can’t marry it…”

In the end, after discussing the issue for a long time, they decided on some basic ingredients and requested for Bi Rou to buy them. They would wait until tomorrow to deal with it.

 

◎ Fan Tong’s Afterword

When I was really, really young, back when my parents were still healthy and alive, I celebrated New Year’s with them. My memories from when I was little are blurred now though. All I remember is that there were a lot of things we had to do, and it was both busy and lively. We would be so busy that everything blended together, and in the blink of an eye the New Year would already be gone. Everything would end, and everyone would return home.

Whenever it was time to say our goodbyes, I never wanted to leave. I’d always be crestfallen on the way home. After returning to our own house, the home I’d lived in for so long would suddenly feel cold. It was then that I realized that humans were truly social creatures. Upon separating from everyone else, one would truly feel lonesome.

Then again, one can only feel lonely after experiencing liveliness, right? Actually, when I was small, I lived with my parents and I never really felt that lonely. By the time I was truly alone, I’d already gotten used to it and it wasn’t unbearable anymore.

Don’t give me such a pitying look, I’ve never found myself pitiful. My father claimed himself as someone who had , and he had told us long ago that he would die the day I turned thirteen. He would emphasize that it had been decreed by fate, and that we shouldn’t feel too sad… I asked him why it had to be on my birthday, and his reply was that it would be easier to remember. If one’s father’s last day was the same day as their birthday, it would take less brain cells to remember. His reply had made me speechless.

After hearing something like that, I’d thought that my father was capable of choosing his own day of death, and had purposely chosen my birthday… I had such a a headstrong father who was determined to die on his own son’s birthday. But I can’t complain much, I still respected him very much. Before he died, he had taught all his skills to me, so that I could earn my living from the fortune-telling shop once he was gone. That way, he could pass on to another world at ease without worrying about me and my mother starving to death.

However, the fortune-telling shop didn’t do well, and only improved after I had been cursed by that woman… Another world… Ah! speaking of another world, my father couldn’t have come to Huan Shi too, right? Should I go find Luo Shi and ask him to check the residents list?

But he didn’t have any unfulfilled wishes when he’d died, the possibility doesn’t seem very high.

It’s probably best I don’t check.

If I really do find him, and then discover that my weak-limbed father had been living in this world for so long as a white tassel… That’s not something that can be solved by simply crying a few tears. It would be too sad!

No, Dad didn’t have any speech problems after all. Even if he were a modern man with no dreams like me, a person that couldn’t learn Shu Fa, he would at least be able to use Fu Zhou! With Dad’s aptitude, I’m sure he’d be able to become a red tassel without a problem! If that were the case, maybe I should find him, and ask him to help his debt-ridden son, and get some spending money…

But with my current condition, it’s possible that I’d call him “Mom” instead of “Dad” upon seeing him. Then he’d probably grab a broom and sweep me out the door while fiercely cursing at me.

Oh, I don’t even know if Dad really came here, yet I’m thinking so much. Aren’t I just getting upset over nothing?

Perhaps it’s because New Year’s has made me nostalgic… Sigh.

 

Next:
Previous: Chapter 5: Yue Luo Territory
Return: Main Page

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Translator: TaffyGirl13
Proofreaders: Nannyn, Syrra

年兽 (nián shòu). According to Chinese mythology, the Nian is a beast that comes out of hiding during the New Year to feed on crops and children. It is weak to loud noises, fire, and the color red. Hence, when celebrating the New Year, or 过年 (guò nián), people will light up firecrackers and dress up in red to intimidate and ward off the Nian.
Studying someone’s face is a way of fortune telling. Much like palm reading.
A concept of Daoist philosophy. Someone who has achieved the Dao (the way), has become unified with the Dao and has become a perfected person. It requires distancing oneself from conventional ideas and values set in place by society. A disengagement from the baggage of society, yet not a withdrawal from life.

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3 Comments so far:

  1. Lily says:

    The story is captivating in a subtle way. Hope more people will appreciate it in future.

  2. OOPartsHunter says:

    Thanks for the chapter!

  3. Amiric says:

    I was quite surprised to see Fan Tong’s debt reduced to 250 strings! It’s definitely an accomplishment!
    Fan Tong and Puhahaha conversation is always amusing, and Yue Tui was kinda amazing, for the misunderstanding about Fan Tong’s speech problem to continue until now. I look forward to what kind of dishes everyone prepares. I guess the safest one would be Ling Shi’s, or maybe it’s going to be the only edible one?

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