“He’d only tell you that he has a little calico kitten, and not a Nian.” ─Ling Shi
“Return the kitten to me! Bastard!” ─Wei *** (For the sake of anonymity).
Upon hearing that the New Year was imminent and that the Eastern City had some special traditional activities planned in place, Fan Tong merely blinked his eyes, unable to react.
Who would’ve thought that Huan Shi also celebrates the New Year? As expected, as long as you put your mind to it, you can find things that 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 for the debt-ridden Fan Tong. He had to work in order to pay off his debt again.
After receiving the grass green tassel, 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 after he’d borrowed money from Yue Tui. Like usual, both of them with penniless and lacking in food.
Zhu Sha had some money saved up, but he obviously wouldn’t treat them to meals. 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 that 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 communicating with writing. 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 before he could rise to a dark green tassel.
Despite carrying a grass green tassel, he only had the ability of a white tassel. How was he going to pass the test? He’d probably end up being toyed with before being marked as a failure.
While the condition for promotion proved to be difficult for Fan Tong, it wasn’t the case for 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 wasn’t sure if she’d 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 killing some of them? That way, the number of people that 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.
“Exactly, I think there would be more people looking for trouble if I killed a few. It’s quite worrisome…”
Even with his words reversed, Yue Tui was somehow able to continue the conversation. Fan Tong was speechless.
In short, their lives had gotten busier because it was almost New Year’s. Yue Tui hadn’t forgotten what he’d promised before 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… Obviously because Yue Tui was way better than him in all aspects. There was no way he’d have any opportunity to repay Yue Tui.
“Yue Tui, Fan Tong!”
On the first day of New Year’s preparations, Bi Rou called after the two of them just as they were about to head out to work.
“Something wrong?” Yue Tui turned around, he was polite yet indifferent.
Yue Tui, exactly what do you have against Bi Rou? Just say it straight out. What kind of man faces a beautiful woman with that kind of expression? Even if the beautiful woman is taken, 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 it 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, right?
“I don’t care, ask Fan Tong.”
Yue Tui didn’t look very interested, and gave the decision to 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 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 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 stayed home during New Year’s. Sometimes, he’d forget to buy food beforehand and end up running out of food because all the shops were closed… But he didn’t think that this 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 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. As 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!”
Lord Yin Shi, you’re joking, right? Who even has the money to buy gifts? Can I gift wrap the mop and give it to someone else as a gift? Even if it was worth two hundred strings, who would be happy to receive a mop as a gift? You might be the only one who would want it, right?
“Don’t be ridiculous, can you 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 don’t have any ingredients. 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 this New Year?
“How well you cook doesn’t matter, your feelings are the most important.” Bi Rou was correct, but no matter what, 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. Yue Tui was rendered silent.
You obviously don’t have a problem! You have three thousand strings in savings…
“Then it’s decided!”
“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 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 he’d made would be particularly unlucky.
His selfishness then kicked in and Fan Tong felt 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.
As 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 indifferently. 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 a 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 won’t satisfy me, I would at least understand what you mean. Why are you 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, what would you do?”
Fan Tong was a bit shocked by the sudden question, but judging from Yue Tui’s serious and heavy tone of voice, he knew that the other had asked it after careful deliberation.
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 an elaborate 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 was cawing 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’d 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 made no effort to reply, Yue Tui lowered his head awkwardly. “I’m sorry, I’d probably asked the wrong question…”
Don’t be like this! Don’t apologize when you don’t understand the reply to a question that you’d asked! 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 ages ago. He didn’t care about his image at all, it was completely beyond saving.
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 will 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 kind.”
Fan Tong was shocked. In his mind, Yue Tui was a very kind-hearted child. 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 possible for you to meet your murderer again? Are you really someone 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 with 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 don’t try to lie. But I can tell you don’t want to reply to 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, 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 and not be constantly 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 rice balls.
Each person had to prepare 400 rice balls, and they weren’t allowed to go home until they’ve 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 took in the 40+ ingredients that they’d been given.
The person in charge had said that they were free to choose the 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 for 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 choose 10 rice balls 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 safe ones 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 that 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 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 what he’d said.
At first, Fan Tong tackled the rice balls with great ambition, but after finishing nearly 100 of them, he was starting to become impatient.
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. 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 when he’d first started working. Although he could steal some rice and fillings as lunch and afternoon tea as time passed, he still had to hurry up so that he could go home and sleep.
While he was stuck at 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 someone help out.
“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 wasn’t any good 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, 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? I can’t get any grip on it 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?”
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 human in many aspects, but it looks like 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, I’ll just give them all to Zhu Sha.”
At Yue Tui’s suggestion, Fan Tong wanted to agree that it was a good idea. Either way, Zhu Sha could eat anything. 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 rest of the 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 avoid the disaster and still 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 would be a good idea. But Yue Tui had already died, 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 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. Or have you already made arrangements?”
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 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 in order to avoid accidents or 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.”
Hui Shi isn’t here anymore, but Luo Shi still goes to clean his quarters. I wonder if I should be calling him 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 any ideas.
“Fan Tong, have you cooked before?”
“Yes, but it probably doesn’t count.”
The porridge that I can make…rather than calling it cooking, it’s 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 definitely 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 another 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 was thinking about?
“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 hadn’t been 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 the house, 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.”
As expected, happy occasions never number more than two. My words were reversed again, and it chose to do it in the worst direction.
“…Ill fate, such an ill fate. After all this time, I wasn’t 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. Why, oh why, truly, 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 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 I’d said 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 you anymore.”
The frequency at which I can correctly talk to Puhahaha has increased. 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, 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 have passed. Everything would end, and everyone would leave to 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 suddenly felt 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 could only feel lonely after experiencing liveliness, right? In reality, when I was small, I lived with my parents and I never really felt lonely. By the time I was truly alone, I’d also 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 one’s 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 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. 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 that 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 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’ll 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 remember the past… Sigh.
“An unreasonable ruler, a rotten society, foolish citizens…” – Yiye
“Yiye, how can you be so rude to His Majesty?” – Ya Mei Die
“…and incorrigible servants.” – Yiye
There were only two countries in Huan Shi. One of them, the Eastern City, faced the direction of the sunrise. The other, the Western City, looked at the Eastern City from afar, always greeting the sinking of the moon.
In contrast to the Eastern City’s architecture and its residents’ social structure, the Western City flaunted its magnificent and ornate fashion. Its atmosphere was unlike the silent air of mystery in the Eastern City.
The streets of the Western City were often lively only during daytime, and all activities tended to occur under sunlight. Soon after dark, not even open businesses could be found. At most, there were shops that required insider knowledge to find or shady businesses doing dishonest trades.
Aside from preventing businesses from running at night, the Western City also forbade people from loitering around in the streets after dark. If a resident was caught stepping out of their home, they would be taken back once found by the guards. This sort of restriction on the residents had existed for a long time. Initially, the reason for it was that the Emperor disliked people gathering and scheming at night about illegal activities. How many generations of Emperors ago this restriction was set, no more than a few people could really say.
If one had the will, they could still conspire in the daytime. It’s just that there would be more people during the day, and it’d be harder to hide from the public eye. Also, work and school were both carried out in the day. Most people who lived in the Western City would not have much free time in the daytime for other things. That’s why nighttime activities were restricted.
Logically, only guards would be strolling the streets at night. If someone received an urgent order from the government to leave at night, they would bring the appropriate documents to pass document check with the guards. The guards naturally recognized each other, so they would check all new faces they saw. It’s the law.
As for the one silently walking on the streets now, however, the guards wouldn’t dare do the usual check on him even if they had ten times more guts. Everyone agreed to just assume he was carrying out a governmental order. If they saw him, they’d just greet him from far away.
It didn’t matter whether he was actually out for a mission, bored and getting some fresh air, taking a stroll because he’s feeling unhappy, or even plotting to take down Englar – for their own safety, the guards only wanted to keep a safe distance away and not ask questions. Whose fault was it that the Magic Sword Guard had such a high social status and that Yiye himself carried a fearful air of power and attitude?
To Yiye, he did find it more comfortable that these people were too scared to approach him. It’d be best if they didn’t even say “Hello Lord Yiye.” Despite it being basic courtesy, being greeted constantly really annoyed him.
When it came to social relationships, he had utterly lacked them his entire life, and he had no plans to amend this. He enjoyed doing things alone and disliked being bound to any person or thing. Dealing with other people only irritated him.
As for why he had accepted the Young Emperor’s commendation to become a Magic Sword Guard, mostly it was because that old man at home kept nagging, telling him to honor the country. After meeting Ya Mei Die, he often suspected that the old man was actually Ya Mei Die’s father, not his, since the two of them had the exact same mental wiring. It was not even tangent to his own way of thinking.
Since that old man at home wasn’t even here anymore, Yiye was not going to be as obedient as he was before. As for whether he would get fed up with this job and resign, that would depend on how far his coworkers and supervisors pushed his limits.
His main reason for walking about in the streets at this time was to find Ya Mei Die. As for why Ya Mei Die would be out now… he didn’t want to know at all.
As for why he didn’t want to know, based on his instincts, it probably had to do with Englar again, whom he hated so much recently.
Technically, the Magic Sword Guards were the close subordinates of Englar, but in reality, ever since they saw Englar that first day they were hired, they’d never come in contact with Englar again. Englar never gave orders to them. Their usual work was only to come along as guards whenever he appeared in public –––the elders wouldn’t even let them know when it was the actual person on the seat instead of a body double again.
Yiye always felt like Englar and the elders had made loafers out of the Magic Sword Guards, whose jobs supposedly involved great responsibilities. This certainly wasn’t a good feeling, especially since none of the Magic Sword Guards were useless.
Every time they headed out together and he saw Englar decorated with the same three golden threads as himself, Yiye couldn’t help but sneer.
Why would Englar need the protection of the Magic Sword Guards? This system should only exist if the Emperor didn’t have power himself, right?
Englar didn’t need them. Even though they had never talked to each other and he could not tell what the Young Emperor was thinking, Yiye’s instinct told him such.
This was proven true five years ago. When an emergency came upon the Western City, when the Eastern City was about to break through the last bits of their army, the Magic Sword Guards were told to stay inside the city; yet, the person they were supposed to protect took up his sword and rushed straight into the battleground without wearing any armor.
It had ended with an overwhelming victory. That had also clarified one thing: Englar only needed himself. What guard or protective barrier? It was all a joke.
In the past, the elders had used the Emperor’s young age as a reason to hide his face from the public. For the supposed sake of safety, even if it was a holiday or a required ritual, they’d often have a substitute take his place. The cloth on Englar’s face also hid half his face, so the substitute only needed to have a similar vibe. The problem was that the Magic Sword Guards never knew who resembled whom.
The only thing they knew for sure was, the one who had gone out to battle five years ago was real. As for the rest, they wouldn’t know.
Actually, it was pretty odd for Englar to hide his eyes and brow with a piece of cloth. Some guessed that he was blind. Some joked this was to make it easier for the substitutes, so that their eye colors wouldn’t have to match…
These things weren’t that important anymore. If what had bothered Yiye before was the lack of contact with his superior-in-name or that he didn’t understand what kind of person Englar was, now it was because of his new “understanding.” This was a feeling that made him find never understanding much preferable.
He felt anger against a foolish ruler – what others might call dreams being crushed. Recently, Englar had appeared much more frequently, as though coming of age had led him to start taking power into his own hands. But as for some of his actions, though they could have been tests, let’s just say he’d wanted to make a fool of people. He would use his power to toy with his subordinates in order to show off his level of influence.
Yiye found that the Magic Sword Guards were among the people he toyed with. Though some believed he’s now becoming an adult, no one actually knew his real age. He had started doing some things that were outside of the elders’ decisions. For example, the task to pluck feathers last time was an order Yiye would never forget.
Receiving this sort of outrageous order was supposed to garner objection, yet he had to have an idiot of a partner who trusted the Emperor enough to die for him. Seeing that partner maddened Yiye all the more.
After Yiye had struck Ya Mei Die unconscious and brought him back that day, Ya Mei Die had still been flustered about being unable to carry out their order and had reprimanded Yiye with no restraint. Yiye had almost resorted to violence again so that Ya Mei Die would stop talking and Yiye could therefore achieve some peace and silence.
The reason why Yiye didn’t straight up obliterate Ya Mei Die was probably because of Ya Mei Die’s similarity to the old man who was no longer here. Even though Yiye didn’t like the other man, he would unconsciously let things pass and then become agitated again… It’s a terrible situation.
Winding through several passageways, Yiye finally saw a depressed Ya Mei Die on the streets and walked straight over. Ya Mei Die noticed him as soon as he approached and therefore looked in his direction.
“Yiye? Why are you here…”
“I should be asking what you’re doing here.”
Even though he did not want to know the reason why Ya Mei Die was here at all, as it’d only make him angry, Yiye still couldn’t help asking the question after seeing the person.
“You know as well. We’ve been back half a month now. His Majesty should know already, but he didn’t ask us about the task regarding the chicken feathers, and I’m too afraid to report back because we never finished our task…”
Don’t talk to me about the chicken feathers anymore––! Yiye’s face started to twitch.
“This half month, I’ve been trying to patch up the remainder, but it’s honestly so difficult to sneak into Ye Zhi without being caught. I went back and forth multiple times, but it’s still not enough to make a pillow. , so I wanted to roam the streets to see if anyone was selling Ye Zhi’s chicken feathers, but in the end…”
Yiye didn’t want to speak anymore. Ya Mei Die continued to blabber on by himself.
“In the end, it got too late and the stores closed. I walked around everywhere, and none of the stores were open. I was about to give up, but then you appeared.”
So what if the stores are closed? You’re a Magic Sword Guard. What’s wrong with booking the entire place with an order and looking at their stock?
Or have you also come to realize that using your authority to buy chicken feathers is a really embarrassing ordeal?
“Yiye, did you want to find me for something?”
No matter what, he had to take care of the matters he came here for, and so Yiye handed an envelope over from his pockets.
“I’m applying for a three-month vacation. Starting tomorrow. You go help me find someone to replace me.”
He didn’t even want to say “His Majesty” anymore. Ya Mei Die was dumbfounded for a moment before he realized something was not right.
“Wait! Three months? That long? And what about the worship ceremony tomorrow? You’re not planning on going?”
“No. That’s why I’m handing it over to you to pass on the word.”
“How can you be absent? We’re the Magic Sword Guards who are supposed to ensure His Majesty’s safety!”
“He’s so strong. Why would he need anyone’s protection?”
To be honest, Yiye’s feelings toward this so-called superior were very complicated.
On one hand, he felt useless staying, but on the other, he didn’t want to lower his head to someone weaker than himself. He wouldn’t be able to serve wholeheartedly.
Perhaps the latter made up a larger portion of his feelings, which had kept him on the job, at least until now?
Rather than acknowledging this person as his master, he’d much rather have a fight with him to see who’s stronger.
“Don’t say anything. No matter what you say, I won’t show up tomorrow. I’ve given my leave of absence to you. I’ll leave the rest to your judgement.”
His goal had been achieved, so Yiye didn’t want to dally any longer. Ignoring Ya Mei Die’s calls to his back, he easily made himself disappear with a magic spell and began his boring three-month vacation.
That’s right, a boring vacation. Even if he took a break, he had nothing else to do. It was a vacation he simply took to avoid events like this.
Boring was boring, but at least leaving this chaotic and messy place could give him some peace of mind.
The Western City held more than one type of worship ceremonies. Today, the ceremony would be held at the tomb of past emperors. As the ceremony was an event held by the royal family, the young emperor was naturally the star of the show; ordinary civilians were not allowed to participate.
The tomb of the past emperors resided outside the city limits, so the young emperor’s procession of carriages was required to leave the city. In contrast to the Eastern City where events were open to the welcoming public, in the Western City, the roads that the young emperor’s procession would take were closed off and restricted to unrelated personnel. The young emperor himself would be riding inside a carriage, concealing his face.
The protective measures could be considered excessively strict, but it’d already been this way for many years. The Western City’s residents had become mostly accustomed to the tradition. Even though the storeowners of stores located on closed-off roads bemoaned the lack of business, they did not have the power to object.
Originally, the residents of the city didn’t possess much love or respect for the young emperor. The war five years ago, however, had somewhat altered their impression of their ruler. After all, the young emperor had defended their country during the war, which was equivalent to protecting the livelihood and properties of the city’s citizens. The people of the Western City harbored grateful thoughts towards the emperor for his actions, but his recent behavior had caused those who’d fantasized about the rule of a wise emperor to thoroughly lose hope once again. The fact that the young emperor had refused to use his blood to heal the heavily injured Magic Sword Guards who had recently returned only made it worse.
In everyone’s hearts, the youthful emperor’s image had been transformed from mysterious and inscrutable to willful and heartless.
However, as mere citizens, they did not have the privilege of choosing their ruler; so despite their wishes, they could not exchange the current emperor for a better one.
The Western City’s imperial palace―where the emperor and the elders resided―was called the Sheng Xi Luo Gong. The palace was built exceptionally sturdy, a far cry from the intricate and ornate architectural style of the commercial district. The towering gray palace walls prevented people from peering inside. The palace was like a city within a city, standing alone and operating independently within the Western City. Outsiders were unable to interfere and were unaware of the ongoings inside. They could only use the occasional stories and rumors that had flowed outside to satisfy their curiosity.
The preparations for the march to the emperors’ tomb had begun in the morning. The young emperor, who would be performing the ceremonial rites, was required to bathe his body and change into simple white garments. The personnel who had been selected to accompany him also needed to prepare for their own tasks. Before the start of the procession, the entire palace was awash with an unusual hustle and bustle that contrasted against its normal cheerless image.
The imperial carriage had been waiting in the plaza in front of the palace gates for a while already. As the minutes and seconds passed by, people arrived one after another, waiting for all the preparations to be finished.
Ya Mei Die had been waiting beside the young emperor’s carriage for quite a while now. However, he was not the least bit impatient despite waiting so long. He knew the young emperor disliked waiting―he would much rather have everyone wait for him instead. Therefore, the emperor would never arrive early; he’d only make his appearance at the very last minute.
As the emperor’s subordinate, Ya Mei Die felt that waiting obediently was something he ought to do.
After waiting for another long while, Ya Mei Die finally noticed signs of activity at the back. The person he had been waiting for waded through a crowd of people and headed towards him. Looking at the emperor from afar, Ya Mei Die felt a glimmering of astonishment.
According to tradition, the young emperor should have been dressed all in white; however, his slightly slender figure was cloaked in dark red instead. Although the color couldn’t be called garish or vivid, his exquisite style of dress was still a far cry from the plain clothing required for the ceremony.
When the youth stood before him, Ya Mei Die dropped to one knee, enacting the courteous behavior of an emperor’s subject. Even though he believed there was a slight problem with the emperor’s clothing, he was in no position to criticize. It would be exceptionally disrespectful of him, and he would never permit himself to treat the emperor with disrespect.
“There’s no need for my vassal to be overly courteous. You may stand,” the youth who had a strip of white cloth wrapped around his eyes said gently.
Having received permission, Ya Mei Die stood promptly. He pulled out Yiye’s leave of absence letter.
“Your Majesty, this is Yiye’s leave of absence notification. Starting from today, he will be on leave for three months.”
The emperor took the letter and smiled faintly, with a hint of displeasure.
“Did he give himself a vacation? He didn’t even think it necessary to request permission first before leaving on his so-called vacation? What an arrogant Joker; has he even thought about how I would feel?”
“Your Majesty, please quell your anger… Yiye is not used to handling these kinds of matters. Your humble servant believes he had no ill intent.” Seeing that the emperor’s expression had gone cold, Ya Mei Die hurriedly explained for Yiye. Truthfully, he knew better than anyone else about Yiye’s intentions; Yiye’s ill intent had already advanced to the point of loathing.
“There’s no need to say any more. Is there anything else?”
The young emperor passed the letter to a nearby attendant, as if he wasn’t interested in knowing what the letter said.
“Your Majesty… The Sword Guard of Clubs’ injuries, would you…”
The five Magic Sword Guards were titled based on playing card suits. Yiye was Joker, Ya Mei Die was Hearts, and the one who’d broken his arm this time was Clubs.
“I believe I’ve explicitly refused already. Does my vassal have a bad memory? A soul-purging weapon had created that wound. Even if I were to save the Guard of Clubs, he would never return to normal. Then why waste my blood? If a Sword Guard is injured, I’ll just select another one. He’s not an irreplaceable existence,” the emperor replied indifferently. As if he didn’t want to linger on the topic anymore, he turned around to enter the carriage.
“Ah! Your Majesty! There is one more thing…”
Even though Ya Mei Die felt it was quite rude to flag down the emperor, he’d already brought everything with him, so he’d at least deliver it to the emperor and report the matter clearly.
“Your humble servant has brought a portion of the land chicken feathers Your Majesty previously instructed me to collect. Were these the items Your Majesty desired?”
He presented the emperor with an opened bag containing cleaned and sorted feathers. At Ya Mei Die’s words, the emperor halted his steps and turned around to face him. Due to the white cloth covering the emperor’s eyes, Ya Mei Die could not see his expression or guess at what he was thinking.
“So that’s what you wanted to tell me. I’d almost forgotten.”
As the youth spoke, he reached into the bag and grabbed a handful of feathers to fiddle with.
“It’s just that, I don’t really want them anymore.”
With a faint smile, he turned his hand over and loosened his clenched fingers. The airy feathers were blown away by the wind, floating about in every direction. Soon they lay scattered messily all over the ground.
“Seeing as you’ve collected all these feathers, you might as well pick them up and bring them inside the palace. Perhaps in the future a concubine will like them?”
The emperor boarded the carriage after speaking, leaving it to his attendant to close the door. Ya Mei Die was rooted in place by shock. Even after the emperor’s procession had left, he still didn’t know how to react.
“Lord Ya Mei Die, should we help you pick these up?”
Several maids responsible for cleaning the palace had witnessed the scene earlier. Only after seeing that the procession had left did they approach out of concern.
“Mm… Please accept my sincere thanks.”
If Yiye had seen the young emperor humiliate Ya Mei Die like this, he would probably sneer and ask Ya Mei Die whether he still wanted to repeat the phrase “His Majesty is wise” even after the emperor had trampled on his loyalty.
Ya Mei Die couldn’t find an answer to that question.
Perhaps His Majesty had truly acquired a sudden dislike for chicken feathers?
At the moment, that was the only answer he could come up with.
The tomb of the emperors was not far outside the Western City. When the tomb had been in the planning stage, a crypt had been chosen over a garden after taking environmental factors into consideration. Its exterior contained only a narrow entrance to reduce damage to the tombstones from environmental effects.
The worship ceremony did not require many offerings―only fresh flowers of various colors would be placed there and allowed to decay as time passed. After the minister finished reading from the ceremonial text, the emperor needed to enter the crypt and make an offering of purified water. He would be unaccompanied for this part of the ceremony. In any case, the interiors of the tomb had been inspected in advance, and the only entrance was guarded; there wouldn’t be any problems in regards to the emperor’s safety.
“Your Majesty, here is the purified water.”
The one who had presented the dish containing the purified water to the emperor was the Sword Guard of Spades . The emperor had recently started to appear in public more often, and the Magic Sword Guard who appeared most often at his side was Ao Ji Sa. At the same time, he was the most senior member of the Sword Guards. As he had devoted most of his time to his job, he had not yet married to this day. According to the words of his companions, he was quickly approaching the age of having a mid-life crisis. However, there have been several women who insisted that although Lord Ao Ji Sa was older, he was still quite handsome and charming. Despite that, it was undeniable that the passing years had left their mark…
“Ao Ji Sa, has your rheumatism improved?” The emperor asked derisively as he accepted the purified water.
Indeed, advancing age was accompanied by disadvantages such as rheumatism.
“It has already ceased to be much of an obstacle, Your Majesty.”
Ao Ji Sa replied without changing his expression. He was also someone unfazed by ridicule.
“Really? That’s wonderful. You can finally resume your job again and carry out your duties. I feel very gratified. When I heard that you’d requested a leave of absence because of rheumatism, I sincerely felt that it was very troublesome. How do you plan on compensating?”
When the youth spoke with Ao Ji Sa, his word choice and manner of speaking were both a little different. This seemed to be closely related to how familiar he was with the person at hand.
It seemed that Ao Ji Sa did not intend to suggest a compensation method and allow the emperor to take advantage of him.
After receiving an indifferent reply, the emperor did not say any more and promptly prepared to carry the purified water inside the tomb.
However, as soon as he turned his head and saw the tomb’s entrance, he couldn’t resist smiling faintly and voicing his feelings. “Every year I come here and look at this black entrance, I always have the feeling that I’ll be sucked inside and never come back out…”
Ao Ji Sa gave a placid response to his musings. “If it’s dark inside, just light the lamps.”
Sure enough, this uncle was still the kind of uncle who didn’t understand other people’s feelings.
Despite Ao Ji Sa making it out to be optional, lighting the lamps was a necessary step. Even though the emperor’s eyes were covered by a strip of cloth, letting him enter a pitch-black area alone was a bit improper. Only after the person in charge of the tomb lighted the lamps did the youth walk inside with everyone’s eyes on him.
He had not been inside the tunnel for long before he impatiently pulled off the strip of cloth covering his eyes. Being able to use his eyes to see where he was going was much more convenient.
At the end of the tunnel was a spacious chamber. After he poured the purified water into its proper container, he began admiring the tombstones there, not in a hurry at all to go back up.
The tombstones were lined up chronologically, so it was extremely easy to find a specific person’s tombstone. He reached the tombstone of the former emperor after strolling around. Gazing at the words on the tombstone, he let out a mocking laugh.
“You had nothing during your life; you were only a chess piece controlled by the elders. Who would have known that all emperors would receive the same lavish burials after death? My esteemed father, are you happy? Are you satisfied as long as the next emperor isn’t reduced to being the elders’ tool like you?”
While facing the tombstone, he spoke with not an ounce of respect. His words oozed with intense disdain and perhaps even a little hatred.
“If that’s the case, surely you must be satisfied with the current result… It’s a pity your son wasn’t the child you were expecting, and you can’t do anything about it anymore…”
The emperor didn’t know whether if he had looked forward to this day. Wearing subdued clothing that also expressed festivity and coming to stand before this desolate tombstone, he would say whatever he wanted and no one would be able to refute him.
Because there were only dead people here.
“Ao Ji Sa, what did you come down here for?”
Hearing the sound of footsteps echoing from the tunnel, the youth turned around and fixed his gaze on the person who’d just come down.
“You’ve been down here for a while, so I came to see if something was wrong.”
“A while? Hasn’t only a little time passed? Those wily old fools really couldn’t wait any longer, could they?”
In most cases, people were supposed to go back up after they’d finished pouring the purified water. It was normal for the elders to feel that the youth had taken a while.
“In any case, there’s nothing else for me to do. I’ll go back up,” the emperor replied in a bored manner. He picked up the white cloth, about to wrap it around his eyes again.
Watching the youth wind the strip of cloth around his head, Ao Ji Sa was silent for a long while before finally asking a question he’d wanted to ask long ago.
“What exactly do you want to do? Your Majesty.”
At the question, the youth paused the hand he was using to wrap the cloth. He gazed at Ao Ji Sa with his azure eyes.
His only response was a smile. Even though the smile was beautiful, it did not reach his eyes at all.
The smile was equivalent to tossing Ao Ji Sa’s words back at him in the form of a rhetorical question.
“Fan Tong! Long time no see! Got any recent news about Lord Ling Shi?”
Fan Tong ran into Mi Zhong on his weekly day off. He hadn’t seen Mi Zhong in a while, but to Fan Tong, coming across Mi Zhong right at the beginning of the day wasn’t a pleasant occurrence.
“I’ll tell you if I have any.”
No, I meant that I wouldn’t tell you even if I had any.
“Huh? When did you become such a great friend? Has my bribery won you over?”
What exactly did you bribe me with? Aside from telling me a few stories, you haven’t done me any real favors…
“Hold on! You! Your tassel is grass green now? Even though it hasn’t been all that long since we last met!” Mi Zhong noticed the different color of Fan Tong’s tassel and shouted in a tone that suggested that he couldn’t accept this reality.
Do you really need to yell as if the world is ending? Don’t act as if skipping to the rank of a grass green tassel is an impossible feat for me. You knew that we had gone to collect chicken skins and feathers. We’d simply finished gathering them, so rising a few ranks isn’t unusual, right?
As Fan Tong muttered to himself, he couldn’t help but be glad that Mi Zhong didn’t know that Yin Shi and Ling Shi had helped them out with their tasks. Otherwise, Mi Zhong would probably say something appalling again, such as, “How could you let Lord Ling Shi use his beautiful and exalted hands to help you with that kind of task? I must punish you on behalf of the entire fan club!”
“Sigh, having a grass green tassel must be so wonderful. You can collect five strings every month. To this day, I still only have a pale green tassel…”
Sighing, Mi Zhong touched his own tassel while eyeing Fan Tong’s, his eyes filled with ill intent.
“What are you going to do?”
Fan Tong warily took a step back. Mi Zhong’s gaze looked quite sinister, as if he were calculating something.
“I say, why don’t we duel and learn from each other? Your tassel makes me very excited…”
I knew it!
You scoundrel! You only want to steal away the results of other people’s hard work! My mop is actually really powerful! If you want to duel with me, does that mean you’re not afraid that one sweep of my mop will wipe out a third of your soul?
“Why are you so nervous? Fan Tong, even your hands are shaking. Really now, it was just a joke. I’ll politely decline any opportunity that can make me a target for people’s resentment. I don’t want to make enemies. Besides, you have terrifying people supporting you; I definitely don’t want Lord Luo Shi creating trouble for me.”
Wh-whose hands are shaking? Why are you looking at me so closely… No, as I was saying, I definitely wasn’t that scared! Stop making things up!
As for Luo Shi… You’re imagining our relationship to be better than it is. If it were Yue Tui who’d been bullied, it’s possible Luo Shi would help him out, but as for me… He’d probably laugh and say that I deserved it for not learning self-defense well…and add that I shouldn’t pine for something that didn’t belong to me in the first place. If I lost it, it was meant to be…
“Oh right, since I ran into you, let me share something I heard just today. It’s piping hot!”
Fan Tong had a slight interest in gossip and entertaining anecdotes; as long as the gossip wasn’t about him.
“I heard that the land chicken feathers that originate from outside the Eastern City have become a popular favorite among people. Even Luo Yue’s Magic Sword Guards have come running to snatch them up without fearing death! I got this from a victim who went to Resource Area 1 to collect chicken feathers in the middle of the night yesterday. He worked so hard to collect those feathers, only to have them snatched away in a flash. How pitiful. Sigh, what do you think? Are chicken feathers that amazing?”
I already knew that the Magic Sword Guards were here to pluck chicken feathers. Your intel is old news… However, they came again late last night? They truly don’t know when to give up…
My condolences to the New Resident who was robbed. For the sake of their Young Emperor’s pillow, you must accept your loss…
◎ Fan Tong’s Afterword
It’s been less than half a month since I switched out my tassel, but honestly, I’ve become a little afraid to go outside. When I walk on the streets, I feel as if I’m carrying around a lot of money and may run into a thief at any time. Even though grass green tassels can only collect five strings per month, after one thousand years, I’ll have collected sixty-thousand strings. That is definitely a lot of money… Don’t ask me if I have the determination to live for a thousand years. We’re just laying out the profits and demonstrating my point using numbers. We’re not going to analyze it that thoroughly, okay?
Speaking of duels, Yue Tui really has encountered quite a few of them. Even though he had used such adept techniques to deal with his opponent in his first duel, several people still came by afterwards. I can’t help but feel lucky that they were so fixated on Yue Tui and had no intention of challenging me to a duel. Otherwise, my rank as a grass green tassel would have dropped to that of a white tassel ages ago, and I wouldn’t be able to raise it up again. I don’t think anyone would be interested in helping me collect feathers and skins a second time…
The wounds on Yue Tui’s body from the rebirth mishap disappeared the next day. It was truly an occasion worth celebrating. Using the phrase “an occasion worth celebrating” doesn’t seem quite right, but in short, he seemed to have calmed down. I also felt very relieved, so it was great.
As for the meal celebrating our rise in rank, Luo Shi invited us out again three days later. As Yue Tui and I have both died before at Shen Wang Dian, it seemed a little inauspicious to go there again. We have some bad memories of it, so we went to eat at a restaurant instead. In the end, Lord Yin Shi came around, and so did Bi Rou… We just wanted to eat a celebratory meal in peace. Why did those two have to follow us around like lingering spirits and rub their lovey-dovey relationship in our faces? That’s just morally wrong!
Even though Yue Tui had shaken off the trauma from his wounds, his expression that day wasn’t very pleasant to look at. It might have been because of Bi Rou. I say, what kind of a celebration is this? Yue Tui, your cold demeanor and unfriendliness were rather obvious, especially when compared to your normal behavior…
In any case, all the dangerous incidents have been near misses so far. Continuing on like this with both feet on the ground isn’t such a bad way to live, right?
Translator: Nuddle, Sherry
Proofreaders: Sherry, Nannyn
“There’s so many misunderstandings: that Ling Shi is a woman, that the Magic Sword Guard came with evil intentions, about Zhu Sha’s gender, and so on.” – Bi Rou
“Yiye! What are you doing?!”
“Ah, we finally found you, Xiao Rou! I missed you so bitterly!”
“Lord Yin Shi, didn’t you go looking for Lord Ling Shi…”
Leading his troops, the blonde man who had spoken first approached from behind Yiye, while Yin Shi showed up near Ling Shi and Bi Rou. Yue Tui, who was at Yin Shi’s side, could not help asking Yin Shi that last question. After setting down Zhu Sha, Fan Tong went to find a place with everyone else. Because of the sudden influx of people, everyone was unsure how to react. Bi Rou, too, was among those at a loss. Yin Shi evaluated the situation but was confused for a moment.
“Eh? What’s going on here?” Yin Shi asked, looking from one side to another, then suddenly seemed to come to a realization. He immediately pointed at Ling Shi and laughed uproariously. “Pu, puhahahaha! Old man, you’ve encountered retribution! Even you might be killed one day! Hahahahahahahaha!”
His excessively cheerful laugh turned everyone’s faces dark. This shouldn’t be your attitude towards your friend, right? Lord Yin Shi, in the end, who are you helping? Fan Tong was deeply puzzled. Just what type of friendship existed between Yin Shi and Ling Shi? He could only be certain that this sound was pure laughter and not Yin Shi calling his mop’s name.
“I’m not dead yet” was all that Ling Shi said. His face took on an ugly look, and he delivered a fist to Yin Shi’s stomach. Although the punch encountered armor, Yin Shi still had the breath knocked out of him and shouted in pain.
Fan Tong was not interested in their . Moreover, he thought that if the four characters that made up “flirting” came out of his mouth, his curse would make it seem like he was asking for a himself. Right now, he was more curious about the other party. They looked like they were Western City’s people, but what kind of people were they? Moreover… three golden threads? Three golden threads? He carefully looked over at that little demon and unexpectedly saw three golden threads. Wasn’t that the same rank as Luo Yue’s legendary monster of an emperor?
“Yiye, we have an important mission to finish. You shouldn’t keep creating complications here!” The blonde man’s criticizing tone held a certain degree of blame.
Already agitated from being continuously bombarded by various events, Yiye replied impatiently, “Don’t stop me from killing people!”
What, people from both sides have come to stop their comrades from killing? Although, one from our side has already forgotten his original intentions. But, Yiye? This name seems… a little nuanced…I’m also getting a sense of familiarity…Why? I can’t possibly know him, right?
“We are not at war with Ye Zhi right now, so killing their people as you please is disputable at best. This was not the mission His Majesty gave us!”
“Ya Mei Die, do not mention His Majesty in front of me!”
“Pu! Ack! Kekekekeke!” The moment Yiye said his comrade’s name, Fan Tong’s breath exploded out of him, and he choked on his own saliva, crouching as he coughed incessantly and nearly sinking to his knees.–! –! What is this? “Don’t” – “stop” –? No wonder it sounds so familiar! You guys are clearly Westerners, but your names are pronounced as if they’re Japanese, what’s up with that? This is too much! Can these words even be used as people’s names? How awkward is it when other people call your names? Two magnificent gold-threaded masters… Not good, my face is twitching! Moreover, only I can hear the resemblance to the Japanese language…
“Fan Tong, what’s the matter?” Yue Tui patted him on the back, not understanding why Fan Tong had suddenly forgotten himself.
This is something I can’t explain, so don’t ask.
Fan Tong felt like a bomb had hit his brain. Nearby, the to kill or not to kill debate continued.
“You haven’t contributed anything to this mission. Why can’t you just be good and come with us to kill chickens…”
“I will not put my sword to that kind of lowly use!” Yiye’s face twisted as he replied. Fan Tong actually felt he could understand why Yiye was angry. That is, if he had heard correctly, and they really were here to kill chickens.
“In short, you can’t kill him! You’ve already made enough trouble by causing our secret mission to be discovered!”
“Hey hey hey, wait a second. What makes you think you can discuss this matter by yourselves so happily? If you want to kill our people, shouldn’t you ask me first?” Yin Shi had been listening off to the side the entire time, but he finally couldn’t stand listening to the unpatriotic Westerners anymore and butted into the conversation in their own language. However, both New Residents and the Western City’s people could understand his words, so Ling Shi was the only one who could not.
You finally said a comparatively normal sentence, Lord Yin Shi, especially compared to earlier, when you were mocking Lord Ling Shi and saying this was retribution…
“Why is it you again?” Only now did Ya Mei Die look directly at the other party. Because he saw Yin Shi, Ya Mei Die’s face took on a sour expression once more, as if everyone owed him millions of strings.
“Ah, that’s right, it’s me again. You were discussing whether to kill us so happily. Shouldn’t you at least defeat me first before you say any more? Don’t tell me you think that your success is already guaranteed?”
If the winner will be determined by IQ, our opponents might win, Lord Yin Shi. That Mr. Stop … Mr. Ya Mei Die, even if he looks a bit foolish, I still think he looks a little more intelligent than you… Or maybe I should say that his brain is at least more normal.
“What we say is our own business, how dare you Ye Zhi people interrupt! Where are your manners?”
No, actually it might be difficult to choose between Mr. Ya Mei Die and Yin Shi. Then, it’s just an IQ competition between Lord Ling Shi and Mr. Don’t… Mr. Yiye?
“Returning to our main topic. Why did the Magic Sword Guard come to the Eastern City’s territory?” Finally, Yin Shi asked an important question regarding the main problem.
Ya Mei Die immediately gave a resolute reply. “We are here on an order from His Esteemed Majesty. We are to first kill chickens and pluck their feathers, then return to make a pillow for His Majesty.”
At the moment when most people who’d heard this would blank out momentarily and ask themselves, “Is this really true,” Yiye flew into a humiliation-induced rage and ferociously smacked Ya Mei Die on the head.
“Don’t tell them about this disgraceful situation! How can you answer whatever question other people ask, are you an idiot?!”
… Eh? Slow, slow down. Originally, your reason seemed fake, and I wanted to ridicule your flimsy excuse with the words, couldn’t you have come up with a lousier lie? You didn’t even write a rough draft for it? In this world, is there such a ridiculous situation? However, Yiye’s response makes it seem true? What the… are the bigwigs from both cities all out killing chickens? Do you have a serious conflict with chickens? What an ! Or should I say I don’t know what both sides’ bigwigs are thinking, and that they are doing work that should be beneath them to slack off on their actual jobs?
So wait, does that mean that the gold-threaded expert we ran into earlier and those Luo Yue soldiers also came to pluck chicken feathers? Why didn’t they say so earlier? I would have understood the language! If they had said so earlier, I would have just given them chicken feathers, as long as they didn’t kill me! Chasing their goals like that, attacking with knives and swords and causing all those disastrous casualties, did no good! The result of all that was not chicken feathers, was it?
“Why are you reacting like that, what are they saying?” Ling Shi asked, wrinkling his brow. The feeling of not being able to participate was quite bad.
“They said that they came to pluck chicken feathers.” Yin Shi seldom translated words properly for Ling Shi, but he still attracted Ling Shi’s glare right away.
“Do you think I’m brainless? Even if I can’t understand the language, I can tell that what you’re saying is impossible! Would it kill you to joke less?”
No… Lord Ling Shi, this time it’s actually you who’s misunderstanding. You have too deep of a bias against Lord Yin Shi, they really did say that…
“Ah? Me? You damn old man, casually wronging people, what I told you was the truth!” Yin Shi complained with an innocent and aggrieved expression. Beside him, Yue Tui and Bi Rou also kindly helped him testify.
“They really said that.”
“That’s right, Ling Shi Dage.”
Even with the testimonials of two people, Ling Shi still wasn’t convinced, so he cast his gaze toward the third person. “Is it true?”
… Don’t ask me, don’t ask me, I can only speak incorrectly! Wouldn’t my words just create more trouble for Lord Yin Shi? Oh, that’s right, I can just nod my head to answer this question!
After Fan Tong hastily nodded his head, Ling Shi came up with another question. “What will they do with the chicken feathers?”
“…Return and make a pillow for their emperor.” Yue Tui answered the question, his expression distant.
“Damn old man, you accused me wrongly but didn’t apologize…” Yin Shi looked like he had really taken offense. Ling Shi looked at him without a trace of apology in his expression.
“I am truly sorry. Since you came, let me ask you, how should the issue of Luo Yue’s Magic Sword Guard and their soldiers invading our country be handled?”
Lord Ling Shi, did your brain get burnt? How could you ask Lord Yin Shi how to handle this serious issue? He might answer you with, “Then let’s happily work together to pluck chicken feathers,” right? Did you think of that?
“Ah, what a headache, I don’t want to deal with this. We came to pluck chicken feathers, but we still haven’t finished…” Fortunately, Yin Shi used the Eastern City’s language to say that sentence. Otherwise, if the other party heard that they were here to pluck chicken feathers too, Fan Tong didn’t know what impression the others would get.
“Even if they really only came to pluck chicken feathers, we can’t just consider this unimportant. We can’t let our enemies go wherever they want, right?” Ling Shi narrowed his eyes, looking very dissatisfied with Yin Shi’s answer.
“Ah! That’s right! Ling Shi, you’re so clever, I didn’t expect it at all. This way they’ll make off with our chicken feathers!”
When Yin Shi clapped his hands and spoke as if he had suddenly come to a realization, no one knew what to say to him. Was that really the train of thought of a bigwig? Did he really think that, when dealing with such a sensitive matter, the most important thing was the dispute over who got the chicken feathers? Talking about it like feathers were such a precious commodity…
“You…” When together with Yin Shi, people often had the opportunity to experience what it was like to become so angry they would convulse; no matter how much time they spent around him, no one was immune.
“Then, I’ll tell them to get lost. The chickens are ours to kill.”
If you say, “The chickens are our country’s natural resource and should be protected,” it wouldn’t sound bad, but just telling others not to kill them so that you can, that really is… too blunt?
“Should we negotiate over the people we killed…” Fan Tong originally wanted to say they should negotiate over the people the other side had killed. After all, he had almost died. He didn’t consider the matter to be water under the bridge. As for how the curse had changed his words… he couldn’t control that.
If I think about it carefully, it actually seems that the people from Luo Yue haven’t killed anyone! We did all the killing… Lord Ling Shi covered the ground in blood, my mop unexpectedly killed a few people, and Lord Yin Shi seriously injured someone… so aren’t we the villains here?
“We were eliminating the intruders; we have reasonable justification for doing so.” Ling Shi did not have to think hard to come up with this response.
Immediately, Yin Shi opened his mouth to say, “We’ve already fought, we’ve already killed, just tell them to leave and everything will be fine.”
“And if they refuse to leave?”
“Eh? Then just forget about it.”
“… Shouldn’t we start a fight? If negotiations are useless, let’s just use weapons to expel them, okay?”
“Ah, but Ling Shi, you couldn’t defeat one of them.”
“Of course you would deal with that child. The other person won’t be a problem for me.”
“But I don’t fight children or women.”
Speaking with Yin Shi was always very tiring.
Their party was quarreling, but the other party was also quarreling.
“If this matter isn’t resolved peacefully, there’s no need to pluck chicken feathers anymore, since we would have failed His Majesty’s task…”
“I already want to ignore that stupid mission! Do you still want to reason with the enemy?”
“We can’t gain the upper hand, right? What use is it for both sides to suffer?”
Hearing Ya Mei Die say those words, Yiye gritted his teeth. Although his heart longed for an intense fight with a rarely encountered, worthy opponent, after so many people had shown up, in reality there were still many things he needed to consider. Although he never paid much attention to other factors when he was working, aside from practical matters, there was another problem that caught his attention.
“Hey, hey, are you guys finished talking over there? We can act as if we never saw you stealthily sneak in, and we won’t inform Ying. However, you must leave our borders within an hour, and during that period of time, you can’t harm the Eastern City’s people. This is our suggestion.” In any case, they were all old friends who had frequently encountered each other when they’d fought over people at the Chen Yue pathway, so Yin Shi thought that communicating with them for a bit wouldn’t cause any problems.
However, the phrase “stealthily sneak in” somehow caused people to be at a loss as to what to say. Did you really have to use the phrase “stealthily sneak in”… shouldn’t it be Bi Rou who did that? Wasn’t what Bi Rou did really “stealthily sneaking in”? She even went from someone who’d stealthily snuck in to a proper and respectable Eastern City resident. This is truly quite disturbing…
Yiye was speechless, and it was unclear what he was thinking, so it seemed that he was leaving the decision to Ya Mei Die. Ya Mei Die thought for a bit; apparently the matter could only be settled like this, so he agreed to their requirements. It would be easy to find out whether Ya Mei Die’s soldiers had really left after an hour. Since they were in the Eastern City’s territory, naturally the Eastern City had methods to monitor them. In other words, they couldn’t agree just for show; they would have to do what they’d agreed to do.
“Ling Shi, they’ve agreed, let’s quickly leave and continue killing chickens. There’s no need to look after them.”
“Hng.” Ling Shi didn’t oppose the idea. After glancing at them, he went to treat the two unconscious girls.
“Ah, that’s right, there’s also Xiao Zhu… Eh? Xiao Zhu?” Right after Yin Shi suddenly remembered the matter with Zhu Sha, he saw the person in question suddenly appear along with feelings of doubt.
Fan Tong also hadn’t taken note of when Zhu Sha had approached them. A little surprised, he looked towards Zhu Sha, then looked back at Yue Tui.
“Eh?” He looked specifically at the place where he’d put down the person he had been carrying, but he didn’t see even half a person. Therefore, he could not help but ask, “Where did that boy go?” Wrong question again.
Yue Tui really wasn’t pretending – he truly was shocked.
“Wasn’t he a girl just a moment ago… The person from before, was it really Xiao Zhu? Xiao Zhu, are you a boy or a girl?” Yin Shi’s mind kept turning in circles. If the girl from before wasn’t Zhu Sha, then where did she go?
“I don’t understand this question,” Zhu Sha coldly answered.
After hearing about the situation, Ling Shi also adopted a cold look. “Yin, can you not tell the difference between genders?”
“Ah! It’s not like that! Just now it was obviously… Xiao Yue, didn’t you say that girl was Xiao Zhu?”
Yue Tui stiffened, hesitated, and then shook his head. “You probably remembered it wrong.”
Fan Tong didn’t know how why, but he could understand why Yue Tui had stiffened momentarily. It was because he wasn’t used to lying. It seemed that he wanted to conceal the matter.
“Eh? Mop’s Master, you should have heard it as well, right?”
…Who are you asking?
Instead of Fan Tong’s face or name, what had left the deepest impression on Yin Shi, and the one thing he remembered, was actually Fan Tong’s weapon. Let’s set aside the matter of Yin Shi remembering it as a mop instead of a horsetail whisk for now; he felt his name was already so easy to remember, but Yin Shi still couldn’t remember it. This was overwhelmingly sad.
I’m begging you to remember my name! It doesn’t matter if you call me Xiao Fan, Xiao Tong, or Xiao Fan Tong, just don’t call me Mop’s Master! What a terrible joke!
“Ah, why won’t you answer me? Don’t tell me that you’re not the person with the mop? Then, who are you?”
By this time, Ling Shi had already woken up the two girls, and it seemed that he did not want Yin Shi to waste any more time, so he came over to interrupt. “This is an unimportant matter, don’t bother with it. Haven’t we already wasted enough time? Quickly go do your job and kill chickens. Don’t tell me you want to make a third trip?”
“Huh? So long as I’m with Xiao Rou, it doesn’t matter where I go or how many times.” Yin Shi answered, smiling at Bi Rou, which immediately made her fall back into starry-eyed infatuation mode.
“Oh! Yin Shi, you’re so handsome!”
This open admiration embarrassed Yin Shi a little. “Ah, am I…”
It was truly inconceivable for someone who looked like that to still not be accustomed to being called handsome. Perhaps the Eastern City’s girls were a little more reserved?
Finished dealing with business, the people from the Western City had already left. Only after seeing them leave did Ling Shi ask Yin Shi a question. “Yin, are you certain you could have beaten that child from earlier?” Ling Shi knew that if he had fought Yiye, he would have definitely lost, so he wanted to know if Yin Shi had any chance of success.
“Ah, I’ve never fought him before, so I don’t know. It looks like he’s an expert who combines magic, curses, and sword fighting, but I can do more, so maybe I could beat him?” Yin Shi didn’t immediately answer that he was certain of victory, causing Ling Shi to furrow his brows. This time, Bi Rou spoke up.
“Yin Shi! You know how to do so many things! You also figured out how to cast curses? Which ones?”
“Ah, I’m proficient in Shufa, Fuzhou, sword fighting, and magic. I know how to cast curses well, but I can’t use them. My Wushu is not bad, but in front of friends, I tend to let my guard down, so this damn old man often lands a hit on me… Nn – the thing I’m best at is sword fighting.”
…Eastern City’s Shufa, Fuzhou, and Wushu; Luo Yue’s magic, curses, and sword fighting… You’re an expert in everything from both cities! What did you have to do to accomplish this feat? Is this something only a genius can do? But Lord Yin Shi, your intelligence seems to be lacking a few basic things, which isn’t like a genius at all –
“If you’re best at sword fighting, why are you the rector of Shufa Xuan…?” Bi Rou asked the question that Fan Tong was also puzzling over. Yin Shi paused, thought for a bit, and finally recalled the reason.
“Ah! It seems like it was because… Wei Shi said that he wanted the position, and I didn’t want to give it to him, so I defeated him, and then…”
After spending forever listening to you, I still can’t find anything good about you. And now, Lord Wei Shi has taken up the position of Wushu Xuan’s substitute rector. Why didn’t you take that position from him and work two jobs at once?
“Tsk, just bringing up that damn Wei Shi makes me angry, what a loathsome guy. If he found out about today’s affair, he would definitely be itching to make a fuss about it, hmph.” Saying that, Yin Shi became unhappy. In contrast, Ling Shi heaved a sigh and put in a sentence for Wei Shi.
“He really isn’t a bad person, it’s just that he firmly believes that what he’s doing is making the world a better place. He’s retarded, that’s all.”
It looked like Ling Shi was defending Wei Shi, but Fan Tong was speechless. Lord Ling Shi, you’re so ruthless… Other people normally say “idiot,” “fool,” and other less demeaning insults. You said he wasn’t a bad person, but then you went ahead and used an utterly humiliating term like “retarded.” Are you sure you don’t feel any malice towards him?
“Ling Shi, what are you saying? It’s too complicated, I don’t understand.”
“… You two retards make a good pair.”
“Hey! What? How could you say that I’m retarded?!”
Quickly finish plucking chicken feathers and stop making a fuss, really now!
Yiye, Ya Mei Die, and the surviving soldiers, who had left the scene first, began discussing matters in private once they’d reached a safe distance.
“Yiye, I couldn’t contact him, but when I used magic to try and detect him, it seemed like he’d already left this place.” Ya Mei Die was referring to their third companion, who had been separated from them by the Qing Ping Storm and hadn’t been seen since.
“How hateful, how dare he return before us…” Yiye thought of the person who had left him to continue this stupid feather-plucking mission with this idiot of a companion and forced out his words through gritted teeth, fuming with anger. Of course, Yin Shi had broken their companion’s arm, and afterwards his troops had urgently evacuated with him, but this was something they wouldn’t know about.
“Ya Mei Die, that woman from a moment ago…”
To this date, they still thought that Ling Shi was a woman.
When asked that question, Yiye’s expression visibly dulled as he couldn’t think of an answer.
“Can’t you fix your habit of ignoring people’s faces?” Ya Mei Die felt helpless. When Yiye looked at people, he never imprinted their appearances in his mind. Normally, he only paid attention to things like the trajectories of his opponents’ swords and the path of the magic flow around them. As for people’s bodies, he only noted their positions so he would know where to attack. Anything apart from this was nonexistent to him. When trying to distinguish between men and women with that kind of habit, Yiye could gain only a rough impression from his first glance.
“All right then, what did you want to say?” Seeing that Yiye wasn’t going to speak, Ya Mei Die could only continue asking.
“…” Yiye remained silent, making Ya Mei Die feel even more helpless.
“Shouldn’t you also fix your problem of quickly forgetting what you wanted to say when you are interrupted?”
That was just the way he was, he couldn’t change it even if he wanted to. Having two of his weaknesses pointed out one after the other, Yiye was ashamed into anger. “I already remembered! That woman was very odd, she could speak the Western City’s language…”
“What? Isn’t Yin Shi a man?” Ya Mei Die felt that he must have heard something inconceivable, so he could not help interrupting Yiye. In his understanding, Yin Shi was the odd person who spoke the Western City’s language; after all, when Bi Rou had spoken, he hadn’t arrived yet.
“Which one was Yin Shi again?” Yiye had nearly lost his patience and was also a little confused.
“He showed up later. He was that black-haired man.”
Yiye did not remember at all who had black hair. However, he knew that the person he was referring to hadn’t appeared later. “It wasn’t someone who appeared later!”
“Can Ling Shi also speak the Western City’s language?”
“It’s not Ling Shi either!”
Yiye finally remembered that the opponent he had fought against was Ling Shi; not that he’d recognized Ling Shi, it was just that the sigil of Ling Shi’s restriction order, which only affected the Eastern City’s residents, was in the air, and its entire aura had originated from the opponent he’d been fighting.
“It seems like there was another woman, but she should be a New Resident, right? New Residents can all speak the Western City’s language, so why is it strange that she could?”
After Ya Mei Die had spoken, Yiye couldn’t think of anything to say for a while. What had been strange? The fact that she had yelled his name? But his soldiers had also yelled out his name, so it wouldn’t be strange if she had heard it. Yiye couldn’t recall what exactly had caught his attention. In fact, he couldn’t remember at all the words Bi Rou had spoken, as well as the beginning of that sentence she hadn’t finished.
“Don’t mind it anymore, we only have an hour left. We should hurry up…”
“What are we hurrying for?”
Hearing Yiye ask that question, Ya Mei Die’s face once again took on a confused expression. “Of course we should find out how to pluck enough chicken feathers to fill a pillow during the next hour. We can’t turn our backs on His Majesty’s trust!”
“This is our mission, don’t tell me you also forgot this?”
It was precisely because he hadn’t forgotten that Yiye had nothing to say. At the same time, he really wanted to bestow a sword strike upon his companion’s problematic head and send him to be reincarnated. Maybe in the next life, he would become normal.
“Just in case there really isn’t enough time… Yiye, do you happen to be an expert in disguising yourself?”
“What are you asking me to do? What use would that be?”
“This is the backup plan: if there’s not enough time to pluck enough chicken feathers for a pillow, at least one person needs to make an attempt to infiltrate Ye Zhi’s city walls…”
Hearing this, Yiye thought that Ya Mei Die had turned into a different person. Ya Mei Die actually wanted to infiltrate the Eastern City and gather intelligence, or perhaps Englar had given him a secret mission. After Ya Mei Die finished speaking though, Yiye discovered that he had been wrong. “It doesn’t matter whether you or I do it. If we infiltrate Ye Zhi and buy a pillow made of chicken feathers, we could also complete the mission that way!”
Infiltrating the Eastern City… just to buy a pillow? We’d even buy the pillow? We can’t just steal it? What about currency? Do you have Ye Zhi’s money? Don’t tell me you’re afraid of getting caught stealing and causing the knowledge of the Western City’s Magic Sword Guard infiltrating Ye Zhi just to steal a pillow to spread throughout Ye Zhi, and then spread back to the Western City, causing the Magic Sword Guard to lose all prestige? If you even understand what humiliation is, you shouldn’t be bringing up this kind of suggestion! Yiye stopped thinking before the thought “if we’re really going to steal, why not take a few more pillows and make it ten?” reached his mind and firmly used his sheathed sword to knock out Ya Mei Die in one blow.
“Lord Yiye…” Seeing Yiye use violence against Ya Mei Die, the soldiers were stunned.
“Pick him up and carry him, we’re going home,” Yiye coldly ordered, and just like that, the farce of the Magic Sword Guard going to the Eastern City to pluck chicken feathers ended.
◎ Fan Tong’s Afterword
Plucking chicken feathers to raise our rank was truly difficult. We had to surmount all sorts of difficulties, going through numerous twists and turns… I never expected plucking chicken feathers to lead to a life-threatening crisis, Zhu Sha changing genders, and Bi Rou and Lord Yin Shi breaking up… Eh, that didn’t happen, I’m not cursing them either. Maybe having the curse for a long time has caused even sentences spoken in my mind to become abnormal, ahahaha.
After finding out many things, we encountered members of the Magic Sword Guard, who could be considered important people in Luo Yue. The short one almost beat Ling Shi, which is really difficult to imagine. I originally thought some harrowing conspiracy or conflict would occur, but they were actually just here to pluck chicken feathers. I heard that it was because their emperor wanted to make a pillow. I can only say, w-w-w-what a mess! Do you have cement for brains? What nonsense! There’s something wrong with anyone who would dispatch strong fighters with gold threads to enemy territory just for a chicken feather pillow! He’s abnormal, I say, what’s up with this world!
However, for the Young Emperor of Luo Yue who killed three hundred thousand people, wanting a pillow doesn’t really seem to be keeping with his image…? Maybe thinking of him as a bloody monster is my misunderstanding? It goes without saying that a person has many faces; I heard that the Young Emperor is still young, so maybe he’s still childish…
After resolving our series of problems, we were on our way again, and when evening fell, we finally plucked enough chicken feathers. Lord Yin Shi’s chicken-killing method was still very striking. Fortunately, he killed them very single-mindedly, not paying attention to the rest of us, so we did not need to suffer the shining assault of his and Bi Rou’s love. Even so, after everything was finished, I did not feel deeply moved the moment I received the chicken feathers; instead, I felt lower back pain…
Starting tomorrow, I’ll be a grass green tassel! I’ll have a salary! Hahahaha! This is worthy of getting excited about, even though laughing right now is making my entire body hurt. But also, before this happens, I still have to find Luo Shi and collect our chicken skins as well as resolve the problem with Zhu Sha…
Next: Chapter 4: Fragments of Memories
Previous: Chapter 2: The Magic Sword Guards of Luo Yue’s Young Emperor
Return: Main Page
Proofreaders: XYZ81, Sherry, Channie
“What are the Magic Sword Guards?” ―Zhu Sha
“Ah, it’s probably a harem.” ―Yin Shi
“Eek!” ―Yue Tui
“Absolutely. Not.” ―Yiye
Standing on the yellow earth beneath the cloudy sky, accompanied by the corpses of the two people he had allegedly killed, Fan Tong rigidly conducted an intense staring contest with his weapon. Correction, as he didn’t know exactly where Puhahaha’s eyes were, Fan Tong was staring at its… whatever.
A million different thoughts tumbled through his head, but he couldn’t utter even a single word. He felt like he was about to explode. Perhaps the situation was too absurd, his expressions twisted and turned, but still nothing came out of his mouth.
After a long while, when faint snoring could be heard from Puhahaha, Fan Tong finally asked in a trembling voice, “You… You are not a soul-purging weapon! Is this a trick? You didn’t glow and you can’t speak, how do you explain that?” His words became a hideous mess again.
“I am a soul-purging weapon. I can clearly speak. I’m not glowing now, but I was just a moment ago. In short, be careful when you use me, and don’t hit yourself.” Puhahaha seemed a bit impatient with his reply.
You are trying to trick me, right? This is all a lie, right? Moreover, just now, I hadn’t caught how the mop attacks, so could it be that even a light sweep to the head from it will damage the soul?!
“How can you sometimes glow and sometimes don’t? Can’t you control it? Aren’t soul-purging weapons always glowing?”
“Humph. This horsetail whisk is not an ordinary horsetail whisk, I’ve already said that several times.”
This has nothing to do with you being a horsetail whisk, okay?
“Of course the glow of the soul-purging force is controllable, but our souls aren’t linked yet, and our harmonization isn’t good enough, so I’m in control of it right now.”
Put this way, it would be better for me if our relationship improves. But… the whole thing about linked souls, harmonization, and whatnot… I would prefer my partner to be a beautiful woman if we’re going to use those kind of words! Why does it have to be a mop!
“Then why did you glow just now?! You can’t indiscriminately kill people! In the future, make sure you always glow!”
No! I mean never glow in the future!
“Always glow? Fan Tong, I didn’t know you were so bloodthirsty.”
Don’t just ignore all my earlier statements!
“Yes, I’m saying always glow, I like killing people.”
Hey! Don’t twist my words again! What a rotten curse!
“Even if you say that, it’s awfully tiring for me. I still need to rest. I want to sleep.”
You’ve already rested for a long time… No wait. This is good. Quick, refuse me because you’re tired! By all means, never give off that soul-purging glow again. I’m begging you! We better establish a good relationship soon. If we can directly speak to each other using telepathy, we can avoid so many misunderstandings.
“I want to become physically linked with you.”
…I’ve had enough of this.
“…Y-you, want to do what?! B-b-become linked, w-what kind of linked with me? Maybe you can’t tell, but I’m a male! W-w-who wants to link with you…”
I also don’t want to become linked with you; I’m not a pervert. From your voice alone I already know that you are male, not female…but from your tone you sound kind of flustered?
“What I’m saying is, I want to chat with you through your body, this way it’ll be more convenient and we both would not benefit…”
Please stop with the physical body thing already. I give up. I’ve already been cast off as a promiscuous devil by these misunderstandings. However, the sentence about it being unbeneficial to both of us, after all the reversed sentences from before, is actually correct.
“I followed the wrong master. I followed the wrong master! I was fooled by honeyed words and ended up with a master who has dubious intents and harmful plans. I don’t care about you anymore, I’m going to sleep.”
This is an enormous misunderstanding, truly. Fortunately, you didn’t say you would consider it; otherwise, I would have to seriously consider my own future.
“A white tassel?”
Just when Fan Tong’s heart calmed down, it flew back up his throat again at the sound of an unfamiliar voice.
“You’re the person who killed my troops?”
Fan Tong frantically turned around and saw that several people had entered his line of sight without him noticing. It seemed that the leader of these guys was the person with an angry-looking face pointing a sword at him, looking like he would strike any second. While he was distracted, how long had these few people been standing there? Fan Tong did not know; he was only paying attention to the marks on this person’s belt.
Two gold threads. Two gold threads! He has two gold threads! He’s pretty much the same rank as Lord Ling Shi! Killing me would be as easy as slicing open a watermelon!
I didn’t kill those people! I have nothing to do with this! Don’t seek revenge on me; it’s all the doing of this meddlesome mop―Puhahaha! Wake up! What are you doing?! Do what you did just a while ago! Make me a ruthless killer who kills without batting an eyelash! Or else, I’ll surely die!
“Eh? Fan Tong, quickly commit suicide. I can’t extract your memories again on such short notice. If you don’t kill yourself now, it’ll be too late.”
Puhahaha did wake up, and had even guessed what he was thinking, but his reply sent Fan Tong into an abyss of despair.
“Who asked you to leave the killing unfinished, a survivor ran off and called for reinforcements…”
…And he even called the big fish. I know, I know now. I regret what I said just now. Why does it matter if you kill? Why does it matter when soul-purging weapons enter the equation? It’s still better to kill than be killed…
With no warning, the gold-threaded expert lashed out at Fan Tong with his sword. Fan Tong cried out in surprise and barely dodged the strike, contorting into an awkward position to get out of the way in time as his life flashed before his eyes. He knew that the other person wasn’t using his full strength as he could still dodge the attack in time. The other was simply testing his abilities.
“Was it really him? But he’s a white tassel! His form is terrible and full of holes. He also doesn’t have any strength.” The expert with two gold threads asked incredulously as he fixed his gaze fixed on Fan Tong. He was suspicious of the things his informer had told him since Fan Tong did not seem like a strong fighter at all.
That’s right! I’m weak and unworthy of being killed by you, so please let me go―
“My Lord, it’s him. It’s definitely him. He’s still standing beside their corpses!” The escaped Western City soldier pointed at Fan Tong in panic.
It seems like I won’t be declared innocent anytime soon.
However, even if Fan Tong overlooked the fact that this world did not have a , about the corpses… Well, Fan Tong was undoubtedly the murderer. Though, if someone told him to repeat his actions, he wouldn’t be able to do it.
“Anyways, since you’ve already seen us…”
Wait a second! I said wait a second! What outdated script are you going off of to kill people in order to silence them? Don’t make me struggle for my life again!
Fan Tong felt like a frog being watched closely by snakes. In addition, the man with two gold threads was wielding a soul-purging weapon.
I’m finished. It’s that glow again, don’t tell me I’ll really be purged here? If I die here, will anyone ever discover my body? Although, I shouldn’t care whether or not my body will be found since my soul would be purged. If there comes a time when someone passes through here one day, discovers my body, and suddenly realize, “This was originally Fan Tong. So he actually died here,” then I want to believe that they would grieve for me! However, if I die here, wouldn’t I be dying next to Puhahaha? I can’t be buried next to a mop! I want to change the mop to something else!
…That’s not to say I would die willingly if the mop was exchanged for a beautiful girlfriend. But to make me accept that I’ll buried beside a mop, that’s…
The gold-threaded man had already raised his shining sword and was about to hack at Fan Tong, apparently not wanting to waste any more time dealing with a nobody.
With death so near, Fan Tong actually didn’t feel a single trace of fear. He could only stare with widened eyes at the sword speeding towards him and face the killing strike.
Congratulations! Your life has officially ended. May I ask if you want to go back and look at the scene of your death, look back through your memories, or directly end your life and become a piece of dust in the cosmos?
While he was watching the soul-purging weapon fly towards him, Fan Tong felt those words flash through his mind. Those meaningless words were spewed out of his imagination as a last form of comfort. Repeating his death scene would not help him rest in peace. As for looking back on his life… What would he want to look back on? Being crushed to death by a moshou? His cursed mouth deciding to ask for a license plate number of 666 during the most prosperous time in his life? Or a mop becoming his life partner? The more Fan Tong thought, the more he grieved. However, he also couldn’t help but marvel at the speed of his thoughts. He’d managed to think of so many things in the few seconds the sword flew towards his head… What came after this? Obediently accept his death? Would his unfortunate life be finished? In the end, was that good or bad?
Suddenly, Fan Tong felt himself being pushed to the side and heard the clashing of metal striking metal. He looked dazedly at the situation, only to find that the person who pushed him away was Yue Tui.
Yue Tui had stopped the blade right before it cut him. He held his weapon in his right hand, accurately blocking the gold-threaded man’s soul-purging sword, while his left hand, which had shoved Fan Tong in the chest, went to support him before he fell.
In short, it seemed Fan Tong had escaped calamity once more. He had his misgivings a moment ago. His head was in such a mixed-up state that he almost said, “Yue Tui, why did you push me?” Then he realized he wasn’t dead.
“Yue, Yue Tui!” With great difficulty, Fan Tong retrieved the function of his vocal cords. Pleasant surprise and fear went through him. He was pleasantly surprised because he had temporarily escaped with his life, but fearful and worried that his friend might have come here only to die with him.
“Fan Tong, are you alright?” Although Yue Tui was concerned about his situation, he couldn’t look towards him, since he had to keep his eyes on the enemy in front of him. Thus, although Fan Tong wanted to nod in answer, his friend wouldn’t be able to see it, so Fan Tong had to use his voice again to respond.
“I’m not alright.” Sure enough, he said the wrong thing again.
“Where are you injured?” Yue Tui nervously turned his head towards him, which, in turn, made Fan Tong nervous.
Wah! Don’t look at me! The enemy is still in front of you! Wah! He’s lifting his sword to attack again! Yue Tui! Quickly look in front of you!
Yue Tui kept his gaze fixed on Fan Tong while he accurately blocked the next strike from the gold-threaded man’s weapon. Fan Tong was speechless.
“Fan Tong, it doesn’t look like you’re injured. Do you have any internal injuries?”
Yue Tui’s clear, sky-blue eyes swept over Fan Tong. He looked concerned, but also puzzled.
I think… that this isn’t important right now. Hurry up and remember that I have a speech problem. Also, are you really human? Do you want to consider turning your head back around to look at your enemy? Regardless of whether you can fight him like this, looking down on people like that isn’t good. It’s like you aren’t taking him seriously…
The gold-threaded man became infuriated and started giving off a strong murderous aura. Yue Tui’s brow furrowed, and he had no choice but to face the other again. He looked like he had no intention of conversing with them, and Fan Tong wasn’t capable of holding a normal conversation, so he adopted Yue Tui’s silent attitude. He had hoped that after he was saved, they could quickly leave, but the enemy kept pushing forward, leaving Yue Tui no choice but to fight.
While Fan Tong was thinking, the sounds of swords crossing kept up a constant racket. Fan Tong couldn’t keep up with the speed of the fight. At times, Yue Tui and his opponent even fought hand-to-hand. Yue Tui stayed on the defensive, but looked like he hadn’t suffered any damage.
“Aren’t Ye Zhi’s white tassels the weakest rank? This is so strange!” said the Western City soldier.
I’m sorry that we’re strange… No, the only strange one is Yue Tui. I’m an ordinary weakling. The only strange thing about me is my weapon. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not strange, really. Instead of us white tassels, you should instead criticize that man there with two gold threads who’s been brought to a standstill by a New Resident with a white tassel. Those gold threads are starting to seem fake.
The swords continued to clash, but then, something unexpected happened. Probably from the strain of repeatedly clashing with a powerful weapon, Yue Tui’s sword broke. It cleanly broke in half, with the top half falling to the ground. Fan Tong looked at Yue Tui’s expression, feeling his own eyes widen in panic.
No, the sword broke! How are you going to fight now, Yue Tui? I told you earlier not to buy a broken weapon, but you didn’t listen! How is your broken weapon going to compare to that person’s godly weapon? What should I do? Should I lend you the mop? But you nearly destroyed every weapon you touched before, would you also kill Puhahaha… It’s not that I’m taking pity on Puhahaha. I only regret those two hundred strings. I also don’t want to hear Puhahaha’s miserable screams.
That being said, if he were to try to use his soul-purging weapon in this situation, would he hear a stream of protests like “I’m going to die,” “don’t be so reckless,” “do you even know how to fight?,” and “not like that!” If that happened, Fan Tong would only be getting in the way if he tried to fight. That wouldn’t be strange.
“Fan Tong!” Seeing that he only had half a sword left, Yue Tui pursed his lips and extended a hand towards Fan Tong. “Give me your horsetail whisk!”
…What? What did you say? What did I hear? A-are you serious? I only meant it as a joke when I thought about it, but you actually want to go through with it? Did you forget that you are a weapon-killing fiend? You really want to try and fight with a mop? Do you really think that it’s feasible for you to use this mop as a sword? Can its soft hair really block the other person’s weapon? Although I suspect that it actually can be used as a sword because of what happened earlier, but, but…!
“Puhahaha, are you willing?” Fan Tong knew that they were pressed for time, but he still asked for Puhahaha’s opinion since this was a life or death situation. If it was willing to sacrifice its life for the greater good, if it was willing to burn itself out so that others might live, then he wouldn’t think twice about handing it over to Yue Tui, but if it wasn’t willing, then he wouldn’t try to reason with it. He would just watch and see if Yue Tui could use a broken sword to bring about a miracle.
“Puxiu. Huh? What? Willing… Are you proposing to me?” But since Puhahaha had gone to sleep, it had no idea what Fan Tong was asking.
Who wants to marry you? Is your brain still on the subject of “linking physical bodies” from earlier?
Taking advantage of the moment, Yue Tui’s opponent waved his sword at Yue Tui. This time, Yue Tui dodged, not meeting the strike with his stub of a sword. Fan Tong’s survival instinct kicked in and he grasped Puhahaha to hand it over. Just then, another voice cut in:
When he heard that voice, Fan Tong instinctively thought that they were saved. However, their rescuer was standing behind them, so there was still a possibility that they would die. The person who had appeared at the most crucial point in the battle was someone who kept getting lost in Resource Area 2―Yin Shi.
Now we’re both in a deadlock. Our side has a pure black tassel, so we have a better chance of victory, but because the black tassel is Yin Shi, I can’t feel any ease.
Oh, Lord Yin Shi, every time, you appear just when we need you, just when the situation gets lively. Can we trust you? Can we trust you to rescue us? Can we really? Although according to Ling Shi and judging from the rate at which you can kill chickens, you are quite strong. But how will you do against this expert from Luo Yue?
How much power did the Western City’s two gold threads represent? Fan Tong did not know if Yin Shi was more powerful, since he also didn’t know how much power the Eastern City’s pure black tassel represented. He didn’t know, but… compared to whether or not Yin Shi could defeat the enemy and rescue them, Fan Tong was more concerned about whether or not they would accidentally be killed in the crossfire. He hadn’t died yet, and had, with difficulty, survived until an ally arrived, but if that ally accidentally killed him, it would be too tragic. He really hoped this sad tragedy would not occur.
When another person entered the fighting scene, the gold-threaded expert appeared to be evaluating the situation. As soon as he saw who the new person was, his face twisted in frustration.
Yin Shi appeared from behind them and from the right, halted the fight between the gold-threaded expert and Yue Tui. Fan Tong retreated, keeping a safe distance, and the Western City soldiers raised their guard.
“Can’t you see that they’re white tassels?” Yin Shi said as he walked towards them with an unusually serious look on his face. “Don’t you know that if you kill someone with a soul-purging weapon, even if they’re a new resident, they’ll die?” he asked, using the Western City’s language but not expecting an answer.
“Shut up! You hateful person!” After scolding him, Yin Shi unsheathed a long knife. “The people I hate the most, are strong people who prey on the weak!” As he spoke, he swung the knife. As he was still too far away to hit the enemy, he probably hadn’t intended to hit him. As he brandished the ordinary seeming knife, silver light glinted off of it, and that cold, clear light ruthlessly lowered the surrounding temperature. His ink-black hair fluttered in the cold breeze, and he closed his red eyes in anger.
It all happened so quickly. The fatal silver light, Yin Shi quickly striking with the knife, and his opponent letting out a piercing scream. The weapon in his opponent’s right hand fell to the ground and blood gushed from his injury.
The knife had cut straight through his armor as if it wasn’t even there. Although the scene was very bloody, Fan Tong looked at the damage that was caused to the gold-threaded expert in such a short amount of time, then looked back to the knife belonging to Yin Shi. Just like always, he couldn’t help but reflect on the situation.
Lord Yin Shi, you’re so handsome… Wait, isn’t that wrong? Where did that weird thought come from? Why did I involuntarily think this kind of thing? Isn’t this kind of starry-eyed infatuation the same as Bi Rou’s? I must have thought it because his actions were very handsome, yes, that’s exactly what it was! But I’m still not happy about this… However, what was that just now? That light? Didn’t Yin Shi use a broken weapon?
Steam was rising from the wound on the gold-threaded expert’s arm, and the Western City’s soldiers were thrown into panic.
“Escort the Lord away from here!” Because of the serious situation, they had already decided to ignore the unstable environment and directly used magic. Yin Shi had no interest in pursuing them as he watched them disappear before his eyes. Thus the enemy got away, and his focus went to the other people present.
“Ah, were you injured? Were you? Were you?” After he walked over to them, he reverted back to his original idiotic mental state.
“I wasn’t…” Yue Tui shook his head, his expression complicated. Subsequently, he seemed to think of something and turned to Fan Tong. “Fan Tong, are you alright? Just a moment ago, you said you were injured?”
This time, Fan Tong finally got his wish and shook his head in reply.
“Fan Tong, it looks like you’re fine, you lucky dog. Then, I can sleep without any worries. Puxiu – hu – ”
What lucky dog? Mop, don’t use this kind of insincere description as an afterthought! And once you’ve finished speaking, don’t immediately go to sleep again! Is this a kind of talent, being able to sleep no matter what?
Calming down after having his emotion stirred up by Puhahaha’s insult, Fan Tong looked at the knife at Yin Shi’s waist and curiously asked, “Yin Shi, is that the knife you bought as an ornament?”
Hey, can you not turn my words into such a discourteous question?
“Eh? You figured it out. At that time, I actually bought the wrong one. I’m really good at sword-fighting, although using a shorter knife doesn’t really make a difference…”
Did you or did you not make a mistake? Is this called succeeding by a stroke of luck?
“Ah, Xiao Yue, your sword broke? Let’s trade blades. Both are broken, so they’re about the same.”
I think your brain is broken. You want to trade for a broken sword? How could the broken knife that you’re using be the same? Furthermore… Xiao Yue? Who is Xiao Yue? If Yue Tui is Xiao Yue, then what am I…?
This question made Fan Tong tremble with fear. He really did not want to hear what Yin Shi would address him as, and hoped that he would continue forgetting his face and name, but he didn’t know if that would the case.
“Oh… ok.” Yue Tui blankly handed Yin Shi his broken sword and sheath, trading weapons with Yin Shi. His face was still blank as he tried to adapt to the diminutive nickname.
“Lord Yin Shi, who was that person? It seemed like you knew him.” There wasn’t enough room in Fan Tong’s heart to once again feel sad again about speaking incorrectly.
Yin Shi immediately answered his question. “Hmm? It seems like… he might be… ought to be… perhaps, someone I saw when fighting at the Chen Yue pathway? I don’t know him. I’m not an expert at remembering people’s faces.”
Are you not an expert at remembering people’s faces, or not an expert at remembering men’s faces? Moreover, you’re also not an expert at remembering people’s names… Especially men’s names. You’ve known Ling Shi for so long and you still can’t remember his name! With Luo Shi, you probably remember his name because he looks like a beautiful girl. But then again, Ling Shi looks like a beautiful woman… I’ve gotten sidetracked.
“Ah, Xiao Yue, why are you here? Weren’t you up in a tree together with Xiao Zhu?” Yin Shi finally remembered, speaking another sentence that made Fan tong speechless.
“I… He…” At the mention of Zhu Sha, Yue Tui looked a little embarrassed. His vague manner made it impossible to tell what he was feeling.
“I’ll bring you to him. He’s unconscious, so I couldn’t move quickly enough while carrying him. I set him down in a safe place.”
Oh, what a sensible decision. If you had been slower even by one second, I would have been done for.
“Oh, ok, I’ll contact Ling Shi first.” Due to Ling Shi having already shut off the group communication, and Bi Rou helping Ling Shi “concentrate on leading them” and shutting off her own communication charm, Yin Shi had been bored senseless. Now that he needed to get in touch, he had to directly contact Ling Shi instead of the group communication.
“Don’t disturb me, I’m busy.”
Yin Shi was confused. “Ah? Busy? Old men can still be busy?”
“Entertaining Luo Yue’s lost sheep.”
“…Ah! Don’t kill them! Come to an agreement today, I forbid you to kill them!”
“You say that as if they’re chickens, not people. Anyway, you got lost; you’ll only be able to stop me if you hurry over, boss.”
“What? Are you trying to make me angry? I’ll find you right away, so don’t kill them!” Yin Shi ended the communication, looking very short-tempered.
Yue Tui couldn’t help but ask, “What’s going on?”
Since it was a private chat, Fan Tong and Yue Tui only heard Yin Shi’s words, so they weren’t very clear on the situation.
“That damn old man once again forgot his boundaries and wants to selfishly kill people. Quickly, bring me to Xiao Zhu, and then let’s go find him. Ah, do you guys know the way?”
So you simply got lost and found us by a stroke of luck? Sure enough… Sure enough, only Yue Tui was able to find me… But you’ve lived in the Eastern City for such a long time that Resource Area 2 should be almost like your back garden, yet you have to rely on a New Resident to lead the way. No matter what or when, you always manage to be such an excessive person, it’s almost admirable.
Yue Tui brought them to a nearby underbrush and pushed the tall grass aside. When they walked through it, the first thing they noticed was the area by Yue Tui’s foot. For the first few seconds, Fan Tong thought that it was a corpse’s resting place. However, after Yue Tui bent over and pulled the person out of the bushes, both Fan Tong and Yin Shi’s eyes filled with suspicion.
“Xiao Yue, who is this girl?”
“Yue Tui, what about Zhu Sha?”
Why did a appear when you were supposed to be together with Zhu Sha? Oh wait, “a third person” probably shouldn’t be used that way. I also didn’t mean anything strange by saying you’re together with Zhu Sha.
“This… This is Zhu Sha.” Yue Tui said with a very embarrassed look on his face. After standing in stunned silence for a few minutes, Yin Shi recovered his wits first.
“Eh?! Isn’t Xiao Zhu a boy?!”
Exactly. You’ve seen him half-naked and we’ve been roommates for so long. Don’t lie through your teeth, Yue Tui! Do you think we’ll fall for your lie? Why don’t you just honestly explain this girl’s origins? I had thought you were a very pure person, but to imagine that you made a girl faint and then left her in the underbrush…
“S-she really is Zhu Sha!” Yue Tui insisted urgently and turned the girl’s face over to allow Fan Tong and Yin Shi a closer look.
This… Her face does resemble his, but that isn’t strong enough evidence to convince us that this is Zhu Sha. Isn’t your evidence a little weak for the claim you’re making? She also has a pretty impressive chest. Zhu Sha clearly didn’t have any boobs.
“Her clothes are a bit torn…” Yue Tui’s face flushed bright red as he followed Fan Tong’s line of sight.
“The seams burst open after he became a girl!”
Oh? Well, I never paid any attention to what Zhu Sha was wearing before, but these clothes are a little tight on her.
“Ah, let’s wake her up and tell her to change back so that we can see.” Yin Shi’s eyes sparkled as he imagined the fascinating scene.
Yin Shi… You’ve already forgotten what you came here for, didn’t you? You forgot that you said we must hurry and find Lord Ling Shi before he starts a massacre, right? We shouldn’t be wasting time here!
“Shouldn’t we hurry to find Lord Ling Shi?” Yue Tui evidently also remembered their urgent task. However, was his reminder merely because he was concerned about the matter, or was it because he wanted to avoid whatever would happen after they woke Zhu Sha?
“Ah! Right! Then let’s go find him first! We’ll examine if Xiao Zhu is really Xiao Zhu afterwards.”
I feel like you should examine Lord Ling Shi along with Zhu Sha. Or have you already examined him? Nowadays, there seems to be a lot of men who don’t look like men and women who don’t look like women. Why can’t everyone be normal like me?
Ling Shi was in an extraordinarily cheerful mood. Smiling widely, he whimsically tossed out the Fuzhou charms he had drawn up in an instant. When the soldiers from the Western City were cut apart into pieces by the Fuzhou, his smile became even more gentle and brilliant.
According to the residents of the Eastern City, Ling Shi only smiled so beautifully and brilliantly when he was massacring the residents of the Western City. Only when Ling Shi was in an exceedingly good mood would they have the chance to witness such a beautiful smile. However, the blood and carnage in front of the three spectators made it hard for them to enjoy the beautiful sight of Ling Shi’s smile.
Cute Girl A and Cute Girl B had never seen someone being openly killed in front of them before. After seeing the first victim explode into pieces, they shrieked and fainted. Bi Rou remained as the sole spectator of the bloody massacre.
Bi Rou had seen the gruesome sight of a battlefield before, but it was different this time. She had originally came from the Western City, so she naturally felt a bit uncomfortable seeing the Western City’s soldiers being slaughtered before her. Earlier, she had tried to dissuade Ling Shi from starting a massacre, but their exchange had ended up like this:
“Ling Shi Dage, m-must you kill them?”
“But shouldn’t you conduct peace negotiations first to find out why they are here?”
“I don’t need to know their reasons.”
“They invaded our country for no reason at all, so they should be killed without question.”
There was no use pleading with him for mercy after that. As she realized this, Bi Rou remained silent. If she didn’t, she might be suspected of harboring traitorous feelings.
At first, Bi Rou couldn’t help thinking that maybe the reason Ling Shi didn’t bother negotiating or asking the soldiers for anything was because he didn’t understand the Western City’s language… As soon as the thought appeared in her mind, she remembered the expression on Ling Shi’s face as he slaughtered the soldiers mercilessly. Bi Rou felt that “he just likes to kill people” or “he feels very happy killing the enemy” and the like would be the most probable explanation.
“Ah, are there any more of you? Not a single one of you fled. Luo Yue’s soldiers truly are courageous.” Ling Shi flung his sleeves and cheerfully glanced at the few remaining enemies. Despite his unearthly beauty, the few remaining soldiers looked at him as if he were a monstrous beast.
Bi Rou scanned the Fuzhou boundary that surrounded them. The boundary prevented the soldiers from fleeing death, yet Ling Shi had praised them for not running away… Wasn’t this a bit cruel and immoral?
“Who could save us? Lord Yiye, where are you―”
The soldier’s shouts were cut off as Ling Shi cut him into pieces with Fuzhou. Although New Residents understood the languages of both cities, they still spoke their country’s language out of habit. Ling Shi didn’t understand their shouts. As he didn’t understand, he might as well kill them.
“Aren’t you all New Residents? Even if you were to die, you’ll still be reborn in Luo Yue’s rebirth pond. I’m not using a soul-purging weapon, so what are you afraid of?”
If Fan Tong were here, he would immediately protest that this wasn’t a question of whether or not they would be reborn. Those who had been killed would definitely end up mentally traumatized. He would also say that Ling Shi had no conscience.
“If I were still a resident of the Western City, would Ling Shi Dage also treat me with such ruthlessness?” Bi Rou’s mumbled to herself as her heart trembled in fear.
Surprisingly, Ling Shi actually heard her and answered, “Of course, enemies can’t go unpunished. However, if I saw someone I knew, I would use a less painful way of killing them.”
Less painful way of killing? Can you tell me what exactly counts as “less painful” in your book?
Although Ling Shi walked leisurely towards his enemies, he disposed of them smoothly and efficiently. Perhaps in a way, his technique could also be considered just and honorable.
However, regardless of whether or not it was just and honorable, the Western City soldiers might as well have been lining up for the guillotine. The only difference would be that at least the guillotine would have left their bodies mostly intact.
The explosion Fuzhou Ling Shi was using was beautiful and intricately drawn, but the soldiers’ bodies would splatter into gruesome piece once touching the charm. The unthinkable feeling of being ripped apart into pieces was deeply ingrained into the minds of the victims. Even if they were New Residents, bodily damage was still bodily damage. They would return to the rebirth pool and obtain a new body after their death, but no sane person would want to experience death by having their body ripped into many pieces,
Naturally, the soldiers tried resisting their cruel executioner. However, Ling Shi had stuck a defense Fuzhou on himself, making their attacks useless. Additionally, Ling Shi had thrown up a Fuzhou barrier, making escape impossible. One soldier managed to withstand Ling Shi’s Fuzhou attack, but when his companions tried to shield his injured body, they were all brutally killed. Eventually, most of them lost the will to resist. The few who still held out hope could only continue their calls for help.
But no matter how much they yelled, no one came to save them. Their noise only succeeded in annoying their executioner and boosting his killing intent.
“What insidious plot did you all come here to carry out? What are you planning?” Ling Shi muttered to himself as his raised his hand, sending a deadly fire Fuzhou toward several soldiers.
If Ling Shi had actually wanted to pursue the answers to those questions, he would have kept some soldiers alive so he could interrogate them. It seemed like he had spoken the truth when he had told Bi Rou earlier that he didn’t care to know their reasons. If he were to discover that the soldiers’ “insidious plot” was plucking chicken feathers, god knows how he would react.
Is there anyone who can stop him? Bi Rou thought.
As if the heavens had heard her request, someone appeared and charged into the scene and cut apart Ling Shi’s Fuzhou barrier with a silent brandish of his sword. However, it wasn’t Yin Shi.
When he noticed that his barrier had been cut apart, Ling Shi furrowed his brows.
Upon seeing their savior, the few remaining Western City soldiers cried tears of joy.
From his appearance, one would think that the person who’d sliced open the barrier was a short, but rather handsome teenager. However, his imposing aura and thunderous expression gave people the impression that he was a baby-face who’d missed puberty entirely and looked much younger than he really was.
Although anyone who looked at him wouldn’t be able to stop comments about his clashing appearance and age from popping up in their heads , not many in the Western City would dare utter those comments to Yiye’s face. Even the New Residents who were capable of regeneration were afraid of the consequences.
“Baby face,” “short,” “underdeveloped,” “deceiving the commoners,” “plush toy,” “little brother,” “child,” “pretty,” “cute,” “innocent,” “ three measurements,” “kid-sized,” “lucky to be young,” and etc. All of the above were words that should never be uttered anywhere near Yiye if one treasured one’s life. When greeting him, a simple “Lord Yiye” should do fine.
There really were a lot of taboo words that should never be spoken around Yiye when one counted the recent additions to the list: “His Wise Majesty” and “chicken feathers.” It was considered extremely life-threatening for anyone but the other members of the Magic Sword Guards to speak any of the forbidden words before him. As a result, people had to be very careful when speaking in front of him.
These taboos, however, were the Western City’s taboos. For Ling Shi, no such thing existed as he did not know the person in front of him. Even if he had, he would still say whatever he wanted in the face of an enemy. However, due to the language barrier, his enemy wouldn’t understand him even if he had said whatever he wanted.
“Oh… Sure enough, I managed to find you after following the abnormal aura. Ling Shi of the Five Attendants, right? Looks like I won’t be bored.”
The first one to speak was Yiye, who actually wasn’t there to rescue anyone. He only wanted to find a person to fight and kill in order to relieve his anger. Saving the lives of his soldiers was just a beautiful coincidence.
“L-lord Yiye! Save us! She’s a witch!”
“The women from Ye Zhi are terrifying! Ahh… I want to go home…”
Yiye’s words had been blocked out completely by the soldiers’ tearful laments. Ling Shi understood none of them. He furrowed his brows and glanced meaningfully towards the only other conscious person in his party, Bi Rou, who also understood the Western City’s language perfectly.
“What are they saying?”
Ling Shi would have just asked Yin Shi had he been there. Yin Shi would have translated the others’ words into something absolutely ridiculous, causing slaughter and mayhem within their own ranks. However, the person he asked was Bi Rou, so nothing of that nature would happen. Bi Rou, however, had no idea how to go about telling Ling Shi that the enemy had mistaken him for a woman.
At that moment, Bi Rou truly resented her roommates. As New Residents, they could easily understand both languages, but unfortunately both had fainted.
“Eh…” Bi Rou laid a hand on her cheek and hesitated. After she translated, she was sure both sides would begin a fierce battle. That wasn’t good, right?
“Xiao Rou, what did they say?” Because she had hesitated, Ling Shi’s smile became even more brilliant. He seemed even more determined to get her to translate. Bi Rou’s scalp tingled in apprehension.
“Ling Shi Dage, they said that you’re a witch and that women from the Eastern City are terrifying. Also, the person who just showed up knows your identity.”
Compared to seeing them fight, Bi Rou found that she was even more unwilling to face Ling Shi’s frigidly brilliant smile. Therefore, she chose to tell him the truth. What followed after wasn’t her problem.
After she finished speaking, Ling Shi’s smile vanished. His good mood from the massacre had completely disappeared.
“Luo Yue’s soldiers are truly weak, being bullied by a ‘woman’ and needing to be saved by an underdeveloped child, eh?”
Ling Shi completely ignored the three gold threads on Yiye’s belt.
Hearing the other side speak, Yiye snorted coldly, then asked the soldiers who had narrowly escaped death, “What did she say?”
“…” Silence reigned as the soldiers erupted into cold sweat. They had just escaped mortal danger, so they didn’t want to immediately rush off to die by their savior’s hand. Ling Shi’s words contained two of the terms that must never be spoken in front of Yiye! Even if they were only the translators, they would surely be in danger if those words came out of their mouths!
“I didn’t hear her clearly. You translate for Lord Yiye!”
“No, I also didn’t hear her clearly…”
“I didn’t even notice that someone was talking!”
“It’d be better if you did it, you…”
Seeing the soldiers trying to throw each other under the bus, Yiye’s eyes flashed impatiently. “You’re all useless! Do all of you want to go back and retrain?”
Despite his diminutive height and childish appearance, Yiye’s voice was deep―definitely the voice of an adult, not a child. At Yiye’s rebuke, the soldiers, scared witless, scrambled to kneel and beg for forgiveness.
“Spare me, Lord Yiye! Spare me!”
This time it was Ling Shi’s turn to be speechless, even though he hadn’t understood a single word they were saying.
“Are they putting on a play? A comedy?” Ling Shi finally asked.
“No. Ling Shi Dage, what you’d said earlier had put their lives in peril.”
“Really? Luo Yue really is a savage country if they even kill people on their own side.”
“If Yin Shi were here, both of you would try to kill each other too…” Bi Rou muttered, not knowing if this could be considered as supporting her homeland.
“Yin? That idiot who’s always protecting the enemy is nowhere on our side.” Ling Shi, of course, had heard her muttering and immediately replied. In any case, Ling Shi’s bad moods were often caused by Yin Shi. Under those circumstances, Ling Shi naturally wouldn’t have anything good to say about Yin Shi, so Bi Rou refrained from asking any more questions.
“Xiao Rou, do you recognize that child?” Because Bi Rou came from the Western City, Ling Shi decided to ask her.
“I know who he is, but I’m not acquainted with him. He’s a member of the Magic Sword Guards, the ‘Joker’ Yiye. I hear he has a legendary temper.”
Ling Shi knew what the Magic Sword Guards were. In the Western City, they held high offices in the government and extraordinary statuses as the direct subordinates and guards of Young Emperor Englar. They were important in the Western City, so much that they had their own personal platoons and were involved with the city’s military. Not even the Council of Elders would dare to offend them. Each member of the Magic Sword Guards had either been directly handpicked by their predecessors or had been raised to take on the position since childhood. It was said that the enchantments the five members of the Magic Sword Guards had passed down from ancient times could combine to form a magical barrier that was impenetrable to any attack. No one knew whether or not the rumors were exaggerated.
“The Magic Sword Guards?” Ling Shi’s eyes turned menacing. What were people of such an elevated status doing inside the Eastern City’s borders? Theories on all sorts of sinister plots started forming in his mind.
“Woman, draw your weapon. Even if you’re a woman, I won’t show you any mercy.” The crisis on the other side seemed to have abated, but Bi Rou couldn’t tell whether Yiye was directing his words at her or Ling Shi.
Ling Shi didn’t ask her to translate again, instead opting to raise his hand in preparation for battle.
Bi Rou hurriedly asked, “Ling Shi Dage, don’t you want to know what he said?”
“He’s already drawn his weapon, so he obviously means to fight. There’s nothing I need to ask.”
That was somewhat true. Yiye’s words weren’t really important anyway…
“Xiao Rou, don’t you have a weapon?” Seeing Bi Rou standing leisurely to the side, Ling Shi asked even though he didn’t think she would lift a hand.
“No, I don’t have one, but I can still fight…” Bi Rou wasn’t foolish enough to believe that Ling Shi was unaware of her origins. In any case, they were surrounded by strangers, so it wasn’t necessary for her to act like a weak girl with a grass green tassel.
“No, you don’t need to fight. Yin Shi said that I can’t allow even a single strand of your hair be injured, so I’ll defend you.”
Hearing Ling Shi’s words, Bi Rou didn’t know how to react. In the end, should she try to negotiate or not? Moreover, since when had Ling Shi ever done anything Yin Shi told him to do?
“But… but, that person has three gold threads and he’s the strongest member of the Magic Sword Guards. Are you sure you want to fight him by yourself?” Bi Rou knew that she was questioning his power and maybe even hurting his ego, but she couldn’t let him die in order to spare his ego. It didn’t matter whether or not his opponent was using a soul-purging weapon; both of them were Natural Residents who would not be reborn if they died.
“Perhaps I wouldn’t be able to defeat him, but there’s no question about my ability to protect you. I am very confident in my defensive capabilities, so there’s no need to worry. No matter what happens, you won’t need to raise a hand.”
After Ling Shi spoke, Bi Rou naturally couldn’t say anything more and instead wisely chose to take a step backwards to hide behind Ling Shi.
“In that case…” The smile reappeared on Ling Shi’s face as he got ready to meet his unusually powerful enemy head-on.
“Ling Shi of the Eastern City’s Five Attendants. It’s time to teach you a lesson.”
At the beginning of the fight, an invisible pressure enveloped their surroundings, causing everyone in the area to feel oppressed. Usually, when unable to figure out how to deal with an enemy, the average person would first try to get a feel for their opponent’s fighting style. Yiye, however, had no interest in this and immediately took action, going straight for his opponent’s vitals.
The speed of his initial attack had always caught people unprepared in the past. Before they could even sense the attack and be afraid, they were already dead. However, a single strike could not possibly decide the outcome of his battle with Ling Shi. Yiye first encountered a continuous stream of Fuzhou, the strength of which he was unfamiliar with. Despite this, he still smiled coldly as he struck out at the Fuzhou, intent on breaking it. He swept his sword in an arc, and the resulting wind blast broke the Fuzhou into shining pieces, which then dimmed and faded away. This scene had a sort of bizarre beauty to it.
Ling Shi used defensive Fuzhou to protect them from Yiye’s ingenious strike, but each defensive Fuzhou was destroyed after a few seconds as the distance between the combatants narrowed. At first glance, Ling Shi seemed to be at a disadvantage, as he used Fuzhou as his main fighting technique. If he were attacked directly with a weapon, the result would be very predictable.
When he had dealt with the Western City’s soldiers, his Fuzhou had seemed incredibly strong, but in front of Yiye, they looked more like cheap light tricks. After a few minutes of repeating the same motions, in order to disturb the pattern and use attack Fuzhou, Ling Shi waited until right after his defensive Fuzhou was blasted into pieces before casting a lethal spell, but the outcome was different from what he expected.
Yiye proved that the three gold threads on his belt weren’t just for show. He displayed a strength that was difficult to describe, but he did so effortlessly, as if he was still not fighting with everything he had. Before anyone else had realized what was happening, Yiye’s sword had already struck. With all of his opponent’s defenses gone, Yiye had taken advantage of the gap to try and chop Ling Shi’s head off.
Despite Bi Rou’s frightened shout, Ling Shi didn’t dodge or avoid the strike and simply lifted up his left arm to block. Ling Shi’s arm should have been chopped off, with blood spattering everywhere. However, the sword didn’t harm his arm in the slightest. His slender arm warded off a strike from a sword that had killed countless people without even suffering a scratch.
During the split second Yiye was distracted, Ling Shi quickly drew several Fuzhou with his right hand. The explosions caught Yiye off guard and threw him back. Once again taking advantage of the time he had bought, Ling Shi rubbed the place where the sword had struck his arm, then rebuilt his defensive Fuzhou.
“Ling Shi Dage, your arm…” Although his arm looked intact to the naked eye, it was impossible for that to be true. Bi Rou found it difficult to believe that he wasn’t injured.
“I learned this from my Gege. It’s not something you can learn.” Ling Shi answered her in that thought-provoking way, but his answer didn’t really explain anything.
“Lord Yiye! Are you all right?” This was the first time the Western City soldiers had ever seen Yiye fall for someone’s trap. In their minds, Yiye had always been untouchable. Thus, seeing this scene, they were just as confused as they were shocked. Although they were concerned, they couldn’t rush to Yiye’s side because of the oppressive power in the air. They could only watch Yiye get up from the ground, seemingly without difficulty. The Fuzhou spell didn’t seem to have caused him any real harm; his clothes were damaged, but there wasn’t any blood on him. When he lifted his head, however, the expression on his beautiful face had changed completely.
“Hahaha… Hahahaha―” He laughed crazily, as if he had completely lost control, but his eyes were clear and calm. They were not at all the eyes of a person who had lost his rationality. “Very good, this looks like it should be a pleasurable battle…” He raised his sword again, and an aura surrounded it, entirely different from before. “On this world, everything, without exception, must perish someday. After I kill you, I will be sure to remember your name.”
Although Ling Shi still couldn’t understand Yiye’s words, he could see the respect that was present on the other man’s face in addition to his imposing expression. Ling Shi raised his hand and drew a complicated Fuzhou pattern.
“Ling Shi Dage, will you really not allow me to help?”
If Yiye had made people cautious before, he now made them feel bone-deep fear. Bi Rou also felt the change and became worried.
“It doesn’t matter, he can’t kill me. You could actually consider running away. Since I’ve attracted his interest, he shouldn’t care what you do.” Ling Shi indifferently proposed that she flee, but if she went as far as to abandon her two unconscious roommates, she wouldn’t be able to forgive herself. New Residents could be reborn after death, but only if the enemy didn’t use a soul-purging weapon to kill them.
“How could I do that? I can’t abandon my companions and run away!” Bi Rou was clearly unwilling to accept his proposal. She didn’t even need to consider her answer before saying it.
“But you are not a New Resident…” Ling Shi sighed, but Bi Rou immediately interrupted him.
“So what? I despise this kind of thing! Every time, I’m never there when I should be fighting. Every time, I don’t do the right thing…” She seemed to be remembering the past as she spoke in a trembling voice.
Meanwhile, Yiye had already begun destroying the newly constructed Fuzhou barrier, which covered a wide area. He raised his hand and placed it near the barrier, and it collapsed as if it were made of ordinary paper. Ling Shi didn’t ask Bi Rou any questions about her past. He only silently reconstructed the destroyed barrier, but the quality wasn’t as good as before.
“Ling Shi Dage, don’t you have some means of escaping? Like a transportation spell, or some kind of Fuzhou…”
“I said I can’t die, at most I’ll be injured.” While they spoke, the speed at which Ling Shi mended the barrier grew slower and slower. Then the tip of a sword flashed red, like an incarnation of death. Even though Ling Shi knew it couldn’t kill him, he still didn’t want it to cut him again.
As he was trying to think of a solution, Bi Rou suddenly rushed towards Yiye, shouting a few sentences. Yiye looked shocked when he heard the Western City’s language come out of her mouth. As she continued speaking, the sound of her voice was interrupted by the appearance of several people.
◎ Fan Tong’s Afterword
Oh, it feels like so many things have happened. I have to say I am very happy to have escaped death. Yue Tui is definitely a good friend; being able to make such a friend isn’t bad at all. It’s a definite win! Ah, I really can’t understand his strength anymore. He even had the courage to use the mop; he really isn’t ordinary.
However, the unconscious girl hidden in the underbrush, is she really… tsk tsk tsk. Zhu Sha? Zhu Sha is clearly a boy. If “he” is really a “she,” then we are very blessed to be living with her. However, it looks to be an obvious lie.
Today was the first time that I didn’t feel jealous of Lord Yin Shi’s handsomeness. Seldom have I felt such a pure, sincere feeling… Is this the feeling that comes from surviving a crisis? A friend in need is a friend indeed? I don’t think that saying should be used in this situation.
As everyone knows, Lord Yin Shi is very handsome. However, during that split second when he brandished his knife, his divine handsomeness made me dizzy with admiration… Ah! Am I sick? Although it’s perfectly acceptable to hero-worship other men, Yin Shi is clearly an idiot. Don’t tell me there’s actually a fine line between heroism and idiocy? If so, all the heroes in the world would be crying! After we go back home, I better find Mi Zhong and inquire whether or not I need a psychologist. I rather miss the version of me that found Yin Shi’s handsome face annoying. I want to go back to normal. I can’t believe a mean, picky person like Yin Shi had saved my life. It just doesn’t seem right. After all, Yin Shi had been the cause of one of my deaths before. Maybe I’ll just regard this time as compensation.
Today, my mop and I managed to establish a complicated relationship. We’ve conducted the longest conversation in our whole history. Strictly speaking, the conversation was a failure as I ended up twisting my words again. My curse made it as if I were trying to woo the mop. Now it doesn’t want to talk to me anymore. I don’t know if this is worth celebrating.
In the end, I still don’t know whether or not it’s a soul-purging weapon. Should I consider it fortunate that Yue Tui and I haven’t gone to Wushu Xuan’s fighting class ever since we bought our weapons? Otherwise, I might have already been arrested for being a dangerous and suspicious person…
From the current situation, it seems a lot have happened on Ling Shi’s side. I can sense the lingering smell of Fuzhou in the air, plus there’s a murderous-looking child standing opposite of Ling Shi… Exactly what is going on here? Lord Ling Shi, has the illegitimate child you’ve abandoned come to find you? Who’s the mother?
Next: Chapter 3: Misunderstandings Can Still be Peacefully Resolved
Previous: Chapter 1: Unexpected Guests
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Proofreaders: InkedSx, dinoj, XYZ81, Sherry, Rose
“Your teachers should have taught you to mercilessly slaughter people from Luo Yue whenever you see them, but you didn’t listen! You didn’t listen!” – Luo Shi
“I think Luo Yue’s teachers also teach this kind of thing…” – Fan Tong
A boy and a girl were up in a tree, and a miserable wail alerted the group of beasts under the tree to the location of their prey. The situation was out of control.
However, that was the situation three minutes ago. Presently, the young man had left the safety of the tree and cleanly killed all of the beasts in order to escape from the incomprehensible and unacceptably awkward situation. That person was still in a bit of a trance; his brain felt like it had yet to start working correctly again.
The young woman jumped down from the tree and very quickly helped him recall what had happened a moment ago, bringing his mind back from its violent combative haze.
“Yue Tui, you really are very strong. Ah, you killed so many beasts in such a short time…” Zhu Sha looked around at all the beast corpses, a little surprised.
For a while, Yue Tui did not know where to look. Just a few minutes ago, Zhu Sha had changed into a woman – a beautiful woman with long hair and a graceful figure. It… seemed like it had happened when they’d climbed up the tree?
Disregarding whether or not he was used to talking to girls, he had just seen his originally male friend suddenly change into a female. For Yue Tui to adapt quickly would be a little difficult. Moreover, according to what Zhu Sha had said before, it seemed “she” could still change back to a “he.” In the end, should he be considered a boy or a girl? What kind of situation was this? What should Yue Tui do?!
Seemingly not noticing Yue Tui’s pale face, Zhu Sha quickly lost interest in the beast corpses and walked over to him. However, as soon as she’d move forward a step, Yue Tui would retreat a step, and when she’d take another step forward, Yue Tui would retreat another step…
“Yue Tui, what are you doing?” Zhu Sha grumbled resentfully, not understanding why he was backing away. She was dissatisfied because she knew she couldn’t do anything about it if Yue Tui didn’t want her to get any closer, as his speed was at a level she couldn’t hope to match.“Zhu Sha, you, you… In the end, are you…” In a trembling voice, Yue Tui tried to ask her, but he still wasn’t sure he wanted to know the answer to that question.
“Isn’t my appearance the only thing that’s changed?” Zhu Sha said, her tone of voice clearly conveying that she thought her change was a common occurrence and therefore nothing to be concerned about.
A female appearance? A male appearance? Hearing Zhu Sha talk about it before was one thing, but…
While Yue Tui was still struggling to process those words, Zhu Sha took the opportunity to walk up to Yue Tui, who had turned pale with fright, and grabbed his arm.
“I only changed into a woman. I was just curious what would happen if I did. Look at me, ok~~?” Clinging to his arm, Zhu Sha looked at him with bright, shining eyes, sounding a bit like a spoiled child when she spoke. This caused Yue Tui to break out in cold sweat.
No, not all people can suddenly change their gender, ack – th-there’s no need to stand so close to me! He felt bewildered, his brain still unable to process the situation. If nothing changed, his heart really wouldn’t be able to take it anymore, so he had to immediately find a way to get the world to make sense again.
“You, you, first change back into a boy!” If a girl continued hugging him, Yue Tui’s mind would remain a mess.
After Zhu Sha had changed into a girl, her attitude also seemed to have changed a little. Originally, as a boy, he hadn’t liked to snuggle up close to Yue Tui like this.
“Why?” she asked.
Now that Zhu Sha had changed into a girl, however, he needed to get to the heart of the matter, since he couldn’t conveniently disappear. “Because like this, talking to you is very difficult! Like this, like this, it’s very strange…”
“Then, you should also change into a girl. Would that work?”
“It’s not possible for me to do that kind of thing!”
“Not possible? Don’t tell me there’s a problem with your body?”
Zhu Sha was puzzled. Then, as if she was doing something that was completely socially acceptable, she reached into Yue Tui’s clothes to see if she could find the “problem.”
Yue Tui couldn’t help shrieking loudly. “Waaaah!” Automatically responding to the “crisis” his subconscious had detected, he instinctively hit her on the head and knocked her out. His hand moved so fast that Zhu Sha didn’t even have time to utter a sound, and she immediately collapsed onto him. After being knocked out, however, Zhu Sha remained a girl, which was problematic.
Just as Yue Tui became upset about the trouble he had brought upon himself, he suddenly realized what he had done. “Ah…” His face went through many expressions as he looked at the unconscious Zhu Sha. He felt that he couldn’t stay here, but he absolutely couldn’t leave Zhu Sha either. After hesitating for a short while, he could only compromise and carry his unconscious companion with him.
“Ling Shi Gege, are we still going to wait here for Yin Shi to meet up with us?” Although she had heard the conversation a moment ago, Bi Rou still wanted to confirm their plan. After all, Yin Shi’s words could not be relied on. He could very easily say “west” when he meant to say “east,” but Ling Shi seemed to understand Yin Shi a certain amount due to spending a lot of time around him. Therefore, if Ling Shi decided to wait here longer, he probably wouldn’t be wrong.
“Yes. As the only just passed, the surrounding airflow is still unstable. We can’t determine his exact location right now. Although he should be able to locate us no matter where we are, it’s still best not to run off.” Ling Shi answered her question and even explained his answer.
At that moment, Cute Girl A asked curiously, “Lord Ling Shi, may I ask what the Qing Ping Storm is?” It was a term none of them had heard before. Judging from how Ling Shi’s expression had flipped, it must be something rather dangerous. Therefore, they naturally wanted to know more about it.
Just a moment ago, when they’d encountered the Qing Ping Storm, Ling Shi had reacted quickly to protect them. All they knew was that he had used Fuzhou to form a protective barrier around them, and when he’d finally removed the barrier, they’d been transported to an entirely different area. They didn’t understand what actually happened at all.
“It’s somewhat like an unusual geographic phenomenon.” Ling Shi naturally had an answer to an intellectual question like that . “It mainly occurs within the borders of Eastern City’s territory. It’s a large-scale sandstorm that often combines with broken rock and discharges electrical currents, causing considerable destruction to the land it sweeps over… If swept up in the storm, people with a purple tassel or lower will die unless they are extremely lucky. Qing Ping Storms move very fast and their trajectory is unpredictable. People who get caught up in them can be dumped anywhere, which is why we were scattered just now.”
In other words, if they hadn’t had Ling Shi’s protection, those few girls were afraid that they would have died. Cute Girl B felt fear in the pit of her stomach. “Fortunately, we have Lord Ling Shi here, so it seems like only Fan Tong ran into trouble. We were really lucky.”
If Fan Tong had been present, he would have inevitably protested that sentiment. Why should one person bear the burden for an entire group’s bad luck?
“It’s not good luck. That Qing Ping Storm normally only appears in more dangerous areas, but the one just now appeared in a place like Resource Area 2…” Ling Shi concluded. “Perhaps it’s because I used the jade plate too much.”
That jade plate… What was it exactly? To give off so much energy to have influenced the weather? The three girls remained silent when Ling Shi reached this conclusion until Yin Shi’s flustered voice came through their communication charms.
“Ah! Ling Shi! Where is this?! I’ve been separated from you guys and I have no idea where I am!” No one knew what to say in response.
“What do your surroundings look like?” Ling Shi asked patiently.
“About that… There are all sorts of things near me. The Qing Ping Storm that swept through was very strong; I killed all those beasts, but I can’t find their bodies. Where should I go?”
Even if the corpses were still there, considering his original twisting route and the method used to kill them, Ling Shi was not confident he could find the correct route, even if he tried to retrace his path.
“You know that the Qing Ping Storm sweeps people away; are we still on our original path?”
“Ah! Old man! How could you kidnap Xiao Rou and the others, and then make the Qing Ping Storm carry them all over the place?! Why are you not on our original path waiting for me?” He once again made an unreasonable request. Moreover, Ling Shi was obviously the one who stayed on their original path, but Yin Shi still couldn’t find them; nevertheless, he had the nerve to criticize Ling Shi.
“I don’t want to bother with you.” Ling Shi said as his patience had officially run out.
“Eh? You don’t want to bother with me? But I want to go find Xiao Rou! So, what am I supposed to do?!”
“Why don’t you use your love to find her then? If you aren’t able to find her, then that just means your love wasn’t strong enough in the first place. Goodbye.” After he finished speaking, Ling Shi bluntly cut off his group communication channel. Yin Shi apparently continued to sob to Bi Rou about Ling Shi’s heartlessness, but it didn’t matter because he wasn’t there to hear it, and as such had nothing to do with the ensuing conversation.
“Xiao Rou, my heart feels so cold, my legs ache, I’m so tired…”
“Yin Shi, can you ignore it?”
If he was able to hear Bi Rou, it meant that Yin Shi was still acting pitiful. Ling Shi glanced over at her, and spoke without thinking through what he was about to say. “Ignore him. He’s the only one who didn’t caught up by the Qing Ping Storm, so what could he possibly do to help us?”
“Xiao Rou! Xiao Rou! Talking to you, but not being able to be with you at your side. I feel as though I could die.”
“No, I don’t want you to die! Yin Shi, don’t die!”
“…” Since it seemed like they were amusing themselves, Ling Shi did not feel inclined to interrupt and destroy the bubble they’ve created amongst themselves.
The Qing Ping Storm had swept through the surrounding area, and as a result, there was sand everywhere… On the ground and in the air, making them incapable of seeing what lay ahead further away. A large stone sheltered them. Ling Shi had effortlessly kept up the Fuzhou barrier, making the area in their immediate vicinity clear. They couldn’t see their surroundings, though.
Even though unable to see clearly, sensing life forms was not a problem for Ling Shi. When he felt someone that was not a beast approaching, Ling Shi immediately stood in front of Bi Rou and the others to shield them, causing them to look towards him in confusion. “There’s an enemy,” he explained.
“An enemy?” This answer was simple, but they still didn’t understand. Ling Shi smiled a little, and his eyes looked ready for battle. “It’s some Luo Yue trash.”
Walking in the sand-filled environment, although everyone was unhappy, these few people were especially displeased.
“As I said, I simply do not want to be here on this damn mission. This damn Ye Zhi! Just by walking around here, we ran into that stupid, weird weather phenomenon!”
From the group came the voice of a relatively short, young man. From the terrible look on his face, it was obvious that his temper was on the edge of blowing up. It seemed that when it came to dealing with his violent temper,, his companions were already used to it. Only a few of the people who were accompanying him shrank back in fear, afraid that he would take out his anger on his subordinates.
Judging from their attire, language, and looks, they were definitely visitors from the Western City – even though no one had invited them. In order to keep a ‘low profile’, they were wearing simple clothes as a disguise instead of wearing Western City’s clothes. However, the Western City’s clothes and the Eastern City’s had always been two different styles, no matter how simple or elaborate they were. Despite their simple clothing, it was easy to tell that they were from the Western City.
“Yiye, do you see any chickens? After that strange storm swept through, I haven’t seen a single living creature besides us…” the blond man walking ahead of him looked over his shoulder and asked the violent teenager.
If Yin Shi were here, he would probably point at them and yell, “Long time no see,” and then the blond man’s face would immediately look like he encountered someone who owed him millions of strings of money. Though, it was no wonder he wore an ugly expression when looking at Yin Shi, even though he usually used a very neutral face when talking to other people.
“Right now, who has the leisure time to look for chickens?!” Yiye glared and snarled at him, a murderous expression on his face. It was really a pity that the people around him were all his comrades, which meant he couldn’t kill them.
Actually, in Yiye’s mind, it wasn’t that he couldn’t kill them. Rather it was because killing them wouldn’t be a good thing, so he just didn’t bother.
“We came to kill chickens and pluck their feathers. In that case, isn’t it important to actually find the chickens?” the blonde man earnestly asked in reply, causing Yiye’s eyes to take on a more ominous glint.
“This order is extremely stupid! Englar must have fallen down and knocked his head or something! He wants feathers for his pillow, so he sent the Magic Sword Guards to Ye Zhi to kill chickens? Acting willfully has to have a limit! If he wants to send us out, he needs to find a better reason!” Yiye angrily ranted.
Yiye had a tendency to get angry without provocation at any given time, but this time, his troops all silently agreed with him. The reason they had to come here was quite ridiculous.
The Western City’s Young Emperor was there, and directly following him in rank were the Council of Elders and the five Magic Sword Guards. The Magic Sword Guards were responsible for the Young Emperor’s safety, and therefore had a very high status. Logically speaking, the Magic Sword Guards and the Council of Elders were too high in rank to be randomly dispatched on missions. However, they had been ordered to go to the Eastern City’s territory just to kill chickens and collect their feathers… All on the Young Emperor’s whim. The Young Emperor had causally ordered them: “I hear Ye Zhi’s land has chicken feathers that make good pillows. Set out today and bring some back for me… Please.”
When they received that kind of order, every single one among them felt as though a black cloud had appeared over their heads. Plucking chicken feathers?! He dispatched the Magic Sword Guards to the enemy’s territory to pluck… Chicken! Feathers! To. Make. A. Pillow?! The shame didn’t end there as this mission wasn’t even kept secret and the Emperor directly announced his orders while addressing the entire country. This made the Western City’s citizens gossip continuously while speculating what the emperor’s intentions could possibly be. His actions were clearly and deliberately aimed at alienating the Magic Sword Guards, suggesting that their respected positions were not the same as before.
Or was it because he wanted to send away the small force and take the opportunity to do something in their absence?
Or as Yiye would say, was it just because the Young Emperor had hit his head too hard and wanted a soft pillow?
Regardless of the reason, because they felt the Emperor was playing with them, the guards weren’t too happy. Their so-called ruler’s way of thinking was simply too hard to understand. He often acted as if he thought everyone else’s minds were as strange as his. This meant his personal guards had to wrack their heads every time to understand his orders, sometimes the process made them want to vomit blood in frustration. They had no choice but to obey his orders and set off, playing the situation by ear.
Regardless of the Young Emperor’s intentions, gathering chicken feathers and bringing them back hardly caused any harm. Although the Young Emperor’s command was for all five members of the Magic Sword Guards to leave, only three had actually gone on the mission. Of the two that didn’t come, one was well-known for coming down with debilitating colds and had requested leave due to another bout of illness. The other person had been out of the city for a while already, so no one could contact him with the order.
“We can’t be rude to His Majesty. His Majesty’s thought processes are indeed profound, we shouldn’t look only at the surface,” the blond man said, resolutely scolding his companion for his irreverent words. The troops under their command remained silent. Yiye used a “there’s no saving this guy” expression to look at him.
“You’re the emperor’s slave! You might as well have stayed behind in the Western City to lick Englar’s shoes!”
“You can’t call out His Majesty’s name directly like that! And even if you say that, didn’t you come along on this mission in the end as well?”
The Council of Elders could be considered equal in rank to them, so if the elders gave them an order, they could set it aside and ignore it. The Young Emperor’s orders, however, were different. Regardless of whether the Council used the Young Emperor as a figurehead, as long as he held the title of Western City’s ruler, he commanded the entire nation, and that included the Magic Sword Guards. It was fine if Yiye didn’t call him by his title of ‘Young Emperor’, but calling him the same thing that the enemy country called him was something he couldn’t do too many times, since he still had to pay attention to propriety. However, it seemed like if he received too many commands like the chicken feather mission, he might actually commit treason.
“… Do you want to die?” So, when Yiye looked at the blond man with chilling eyes, the troops all broke out in cold sweat fearing for the blond man’s safety, since none of them were confident that Yiye wouldn’t attack him. If he were to attack him, Yiye would definitely beat him up. The three gold threads on his belt weren’t fake; he absolutely wouldn’t lose to the blond man, who only had two gold threads.
“Right now, we should be looking for chickens and trying to find our missing people.” The blonde man didn’t consider his threat to be a problem, and remained concentrated on carrying out their ‘mission’. Yiye snorted disdainfully, and seemed to have no interest in acting according to his proposal.
Three people from the Magic Sword Guard had come on the mission together, but the third person and his troops had been separated from them when the sandstorm started. Both sides were trying to find each other, but they were unable to use their communication magic at the moment, so their only hope of finding the other party was walking around.
“Yiye, they should be in this direction, why are you walking off in another direction?”
“Looking for fun.”
“Looking for fun?”
“Didn’t you see that mark in the sky earlier?!” Yiye snorted coldly, and perhaps because he finally found something that interested him, a ghost of a smile appeared on his face. The people of Western City called it his bloodthirsty smile. “Eastern City’s Lord Ling Shi must be in the area. As for killing chickens, I’m not interested in that! A duel to the death might not be so bad. If I can’t find him, I can at least take care of some Ye Zhi residents.”
“Not without permission you won’t! If the high-ranked people from Ye Zhi find out that we’re here, our mission will be obstructed!”
“Isn’t ‘killing’ the entire reason we came on this mission? It doesn’t matter if you won’t come with me, but if you dare and try to stop me… I’ll cut you open, and when we go back home, we’ll see if Englar’s willing to use his blood to save you!” Yiye disregarded his companion’s advice, and immediately turned to leave. His tendency to ignore what others said regardless of the situation was the same as usual. He had a complete lack of group awareness and never got along well with other people.
“Yiye…! Really now…” The blond man was starting to become frustrated because he knew there was nothing he could do to stop the other. He had to decide whether he should ignore Yiye or join him in this kind of situation.
“My Lord! There’s a land chicken over there!”
“What? Where? Quickly surround it and kill it! Pluck its feathers! For His Majesty!” Once a chicken entered the picture, he forgot the matter he had been worrying about… Not until the chicken was killed and its feathers plucked did he realize that he could no longer see Yiye.
Half annoyed and half frantic, the blonde man ordered everyone to chase after Yiye. As for what they would do after they found him… He couldn’t possibly predict what that would be.
Fan Tong was growing tired of listing the number of unfortunate things that had happened from the beginning of the sandstorm up until now. However, it still shouldn’t be the most unfortunate point in his life, as he didn’t clearly understand the situation. Therefore, he still had no idea how unlucky he truly was to have fallen prey to such bad luck this time.
Speaking of which, he didn’t have as much bad luck in his original world, did he? Even if his life was fated to be a tragedy because of the curse, hadn’t he turned his misfortune into a blessing when he used the curse to make his business prosper? At the time, he still had clothes, food, and a moderately wealthy life.
Why then did his life become so completely different when he changed worlds? Was it because there was some rule that after dying once, a person must embark on and live a new life? Who made up that damn rule? So… Did that mean his life right now could be considered the same as reincarnation? In that case, was the fact that he was transported here in his current state, instead of being reborn, a good thing or a bad thing?
“Where in the world am I?! Why am I not alive?”
It should be where in the world am I, why am I not dead. Get it right. Since I have a tendency of being in mortal peril, this kind of situation is abnormal even for me.
Fan Tong remembered that he had been unconscious for some time, and when he woke up, he was unable to see anyone and felt like he had been thrown into a washing machine and rolled around a few times too many. His appearance was a mess, and it seemed like he should have lost the mop, but no, it was still hanging securely at his waist… Everything bad happened, everything he could think of. If it were not for the fact that the ground under his feet resembled the ground in Resource Area 2, Fan Tong almost believed that he had been swept away to another world. He really was unfortunate. If this kind of thing happened once, it could happen again, so he shouldn’t have any hope.
Although… In this world, he had somehow already accumulated a huge debt he needed to pay off. If he went to a different world, he wouldn’t need to pay it off anymore, but because of the relationships that he had established with great difficulty, he couldn’t just disappear! It had been so difficult to make friends, so he couldn’t end his friendships just like that. Moreover, he even had connections to the city’s higher-ups. Seeing as he had a small hope of being successful, he couldn’t just leave everything behind!
… What small hope of being successful… I’m just trying to console myself!
Fan Tong felt that, since he was letting his imagination run wild and talking to himself, he truly was an idiot. He then decided to think about what he should do next. Everyone was scattered, so the best thing to do would be to return home, then use the Fuzhou communication charm to tell everyone that he was safe. If he stayed in place and passively waited for people to find him, how long would he have to wait? An even more miserable prospect than that was―would they even bother trying to find him? Fan Tong thought that in Yin Shi and Ling Shi’s eyes, he was unremarkable, a negligible existence. They wouldn’t bother returning to look for him. Bi Rou and the other two cute girls also wouldn’t have any reason to come find him, Zhu Sha… would most likely, about the same…
Perhaps the only person who cared about his safety was Yue Tui, but Yue Tui had also come with them to kill chickens today. So, in other words… if he decided to stay here and wait around, he might die of thirst and hunger over the course of three days, then float back to the surface of the rebirth pond, where his legs would cramp from pain and he could die a few more times, and when he finally stood in front of his companions again, it would go something like the following:
“Why did you abandon me? I waited for you for such a long time!”
“Eh? We thought you had gone somewhere, how come you didn’t return until now?”
Or, even worse… It could also go like this:
“Fan Tong? Wah! I almost forgot about you!”
“What? Fan Tong went missing? I didn’t notice.”
And so on…
In order to prevent this kind of humiliation, he could just forget about waiting to be saved. Fan Tong then realized that when he was on his own, it was very easy for his thoughts to become terribly pessimistic. Once he realized this, he really wanted to find the way home himself, though first he needed to find out where he was and which direction he needed to walk in.
Fan Tong did not consider himself someone with a terrible sense of direction. At most, he only got a little turned around, but right now, it didn’t matter whether or not he had a good sense of direction. If anyone could find their way back to their original location after being unexpectedly thrown to a random place, that person couldn’t possibly be normal.
Fan Tong felt that he was definitely a normal person. In other words, he had no way of getting home.
When someone’s in a bind, talking to something would definitely help. For this reason, Fan Tong placed a hand on the mop at his waist. “Hello… Broom, broom.” The mop was now apparently a broom.
Forget it, mops and brooms are similar things. I don’t really care anymore!
Seems it woke up just now. It’s broad daylight, why are you still asleep?
“Mop. Don’t wake up. No, I mean don’t sleep! Quickly, wake up!”
“Oh… Who are you talking to? I am a horsetail whisk.”
It’s incredibly insistent in saying it’s a horsetail whisk.
“That’s no good! A horsetail whisk is not a horsetail whisk! Anyways, quickly wake up, Puhahaha!”
I need to make something clear. I’m not bursting out into laughter here, I’m just calling its name.
“What problem do you have that you consider important enough to disturb my sleep…” Puhahaha’s tone of voice was that of someone very unwilling to speak, rendering Fan Tong momentarily speechless.
From the time you were created up until now, just how much have you slept? Have you still not had enough?
“Puhahaha, do you know where the road is? I don’t want to go home.”
“If you don’t want to go home, then walking around aimlessly would do the trick.”
That’s not it… By then, Fan Tong was already tired of correcting his own speech inside his head. However, Puhahaha didn’t understand his circumstances and went on talking without paying him any attention.
“Anyway, I’m going back to sleep. I don’t know where we are and I don’t care. I just want to sleep.”
After listening to Puhahaha, Fan Tong suddenly felt that asking the mop for directions was an extremely stupid idea. Moreover, the mop kept on ignoring him. No matter what, he was still Puhahaha’s master. When would he ever gain credibility as its master?
“It seems like I was really lucky this time as I wasn’t killed by that green leopard.” I meant to say that I was horribly unlucky this time. It’d be better if I died. Death would end all my troubles. I can even conveniently abandon this stupid mop. But I didn’t die. Now I can’t go home and I’m considering whether or not I should commit suicide and go back to the rebirth pond.
“What do you mean by lucky? The only reason you’re alive right now is because your companion pushed you out of the center of the storm, allowing you to escape uninjured.” Puhahaha suddenly retorted, startling him a little.
That’s right, someone had indeed pushed me. Who was it? But weren’t you asleep? How did you know that?
“Fan Tong, there’s an enemy behind you.”
How can you call your master’s name without any honorifics! Wait a second. An enemy? What enemy?!
Fan Tong didn’t know whether he should care more about the fact that there was a threat to his safety or that the mop had been able to sense the enemy before him.
“How do you know it’s not a friend?”
“Your manner of speaking is very awkward.”
It’s not under my control. Even if I wanted to explain my language barrier to you, I don’t know if you can understand written characters, since you don’t seem to have any eyes to read with.
“They have the mark of the Western City. You should be someone from the Eastern City, right? So they’re the enemy.”
Oh… If it’s like that, then it’s really easy to distinguish between enemies and friends.
Slow down. People from the Western City… Wait, not Westerners, but p-p-p-people from the Western City?
“Don’t die. If you die, remember to come back here for me.”
What nonsense! Even if you’re being sincere, I still feel like you’re rejoicing over my misfortune because it doesn’t involve you! Moreover, if I die, then being able to abandon you would be the only consolation I have!
“After we come over here, can’t they prepare? I won’t tell you how to use this broom… horsetail whisk, how to use this horsetail whisk!” Whenever Fan Tong was nervous, the curse acted up even more than usual. His words had turned into a completely incomprehensible mess, even he himself didn’t know what he had intended to say.
“What? Am I still asleep? I don’t understand you at all.”
I’m sorry, this time it’s really not your fault, it’s my problem. But the enemy is almost here, wah! It seems they’ve already spotted me! I don’t even have time to run away! Don’t you dare think of going to sleep! Our fates are tied together! Do you understand? Our fates are tied together!
That seems like a lot of words, but I didn’t open my mouth, so Puhahaha didn’t hear me at all.
“Puhahaha, how should I use you to fight?!” Fan Tong finally yelled out a correct sentence, but Puhahaha answered him with:
Puhahaha was snoring at him.
“…” You seriously fell asleep?! Even if you’re still sleepy, don’t just go and fall asleep!
When isolated and left without help, people would have to think of ways of saving themselves. However, Fan Tong couldn’t think of any way to save his own life. He desperately searched his clothes, but the only thing he found was the blank Fuzhou paper that Ling Shi had given everyone. Staring at the blank piece of paper in his hand, Fan Tong’s mind went blank as well. Why did he still have something light and insignificant like Fuzhou paper while the heavier and a hundred-times-more-useful Fuzhou communication charm got lost in the winds? Did the heavens actually want him to die? Whether he could cast Fuzhou or not, having Fuzhou paper was better than not having anything at all. Now he only needed ink and a brush to write the Fuzhou charm. He had paper on hand and managed to find a bottle of ink on him, now he only lacked…
Fan Tong suddenly had an idea and stared down intensely at Puhahaha.
“W-what are you planning?” Probably sensing his burning, vicious gaze, Puhahaha suddenly woke up.
Fan Tong raised the Fuzhou paper in his hand. Puhahaha understood what he was going to do and immediately protested.
“You can’t use me to write characters! I am a horsetail whisk, not a writing brush!”
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a horsetail whisk, a mop, a feather duster, or whatever! Aren’t you all cleaning utensils? Right now, you’re the only thing I have on me that can be used, so just obediently become a brush!”
“I have my pride as a horsetail whisk. If you get ink on me, I’ll hate you for the rest of my life!”
Is a horsetail whisk really all that amazing? Are you going to die if I use you as a writing brush? Why are you so stingy? Don’t you know that it takes considerable skill to write using a horsetail whisk? It’s something the average person can’t do!
Despite having those thoughts, Fan Tong didn’t think it desirable to be hated by his weapon for a whole lifetime. If things turned out badly, Puhahaha might use its hair to strangle him to death one day. To avoid offending his partner, Fan Tong considered dropping the idea, but he looked back at the slowly approaching enemies. The moment they saw him, they had brought out their weapons.
Fan Tong didn’t want to be killed so that these people could keep their presence here a secret. His eyes widened in panic. “Hey! Puhahaha, now’s not the time to be headstrong. That weapon, it’s glowing…” It really was glowing, which meant it was a soul-purging weapon. If he got killed by that…
“Eh?” Puhahaha seemed to waver a little.
“If I’m killed, you’ll be abandoned here. Everybody will know about it and some random stranger will pick you up!”
Just who would know about it? And what stranger would ever want to take home a mop! How did my words get flipped into something like that?
“How can I possibly allow that to happen? If my master were to be killed and someone learned of this humiliating matter… And if I were to be picked up by some random stranger… How can I let that happen?”
Ah? Even though my words were flipped, my threat actually worked? Compared to what I wanted to say, what I actually said hit the nail on the head instead? You are worried about saving face? Does that mean I’m better than some random stranger in your mind?
“So, let me use you as a brush―”
“You can’t! I’m not a writing brush! I don’t want to get my hair dirty!”
Why are you so stubborn? Don’t you think that rather than being a mop or a horsetail whisk, being a writing brush is much better?
“Fan Tong, you have one other option.”
“Before the enemy kills you with his soul-purging weapon, commit suicide. Your soul won’t be destroyed and you can peacefully return to the rebirth pond. However, you must remember to come back here for me.”
…What wretched bird-brained idea is that?! You would rather your master die than allow ink to touch your hair? It’s not like I’m going to leave you dirty and never wash you clean.
“Hurry up, you have about three minutes to kill yourself. Don’t hesitate, the more you hesitate, the lower your chances will be of doing it successfully.”
Don’t describe suicide as some sort of advantage I would lose! You’re talking as though it’s a simple matter! Tell me how I should go about committing suicide in this kind of place! Should I find a tree and use your hair to hang myself? Is your hair even long enough for that? This is my first time knowing that while stranded alone and unarmed, not only is survival difficult, even killing myself is hard…
“Could it be that you don’t want to contribute your meager strength towards helping me defeat the enemies?” I spoke correctly, but as matters stand, asking the mop to help me fight seems a little too late. Even if it tells me the correct way to use it as a weapon, I won’t have time to learn.
However, Fan Tong secretly hoped that Puhahaha was concealing some extraordinary ability, like hair that could deliver electric shocks, or perhaps some sort of deadly weapon, or maybe it could spray out poison when its handle was rotated.
No matter what, Puhahaha was a mop that cost two hundred strings!
“Humph, I don’t think my strength is meager,” the mop said unhappily.
“But you have a very useful appearance. You are my weapon, yet you’re telling your master to go and commit suicide? What is this…” What useful appearance, why did my words once again turn into praise? I’m praising him at a time like this, I’m indeed getting the short end of the stick.
“You’re a useless master, but I’m the one who decided to follow such a useless master. It seems I should save you.”
What? My praise actually worked? No no no, slow down, I have to be saved by a mop? Could I be any more pathetic? What about my dignity? It doesn’t really look like it wants to save me. Does that mean all I can do in these three minutes is pray for its charity? Wait a minute, even though it said that, does it really have the ability to save me? Will it teach me the heaven-and-earth-splitting, exceptionally matchless twenty-one mop techniques, allowing me to reach enlightenment and instantaneously become a master who can defeat all of my enemies at once?
…I’m afraid that’s just my imagination, how can any of that be possible? I’m just delusional…
“I think people should use their own weapons to fight, and their own talents to keep on living. Forget it, I’m not going to save you.”
You really took three minutes to make a decision?! But I think you gave up too abruptly! Does it really not matter to you if a stranger picks you up?
“Even if you want me to fight by myself, I still know how to use a horsetail whisk! I don’t even know Wushu!”
“Eh? You know how to use a horsetail whisk? I didn’t know that.”
You don’t know! You don’t know? In this world, the only one who knows how to use a horsetail whisk is you, but you don’t know that?
“You said you don’t know Wushu? But you obviously know some swordsmanship. Why don’t you pretend I’m a sword?”
Aren’t you going overboard by saying that a mop can be used as a sword? Furthermore… when did I learn swordsmanship? In all my life, the only time I’ve ever touched a sword was when I went to pick out a weapon. Are you mistaking me for someone else?
“What are you listening to? When did I learn swordsmanship?” Again, I apparently can’t distinguish the difference between “say” and “listen.”
“Oh? Is that so? You have memories of fighting with a sword though… Right now, the extent of our harmonization isn’t good. All I can do is help you draw out your memories.”
Huh? What? Slow down! I haven’t agreed to that yet!
It was too late for Fan Tong to protest. An electrical current flowed into him from where his hand was grasping Puhahaha and he felt as if his head was exploding. Immediately, his mind went blank.
After the feeling that he was being possessed by an evil spirit passed, Fan Tong regained consciousness and saw a Western City soldier staring at him in fear, trembling like a leaf.
“D-don’t kill me!”
Eh? Ehh? What? What happened? Would asking him what I did just now be very stupid?
Fan Tong’s face frowned at Puhahaha. He lifted the mop up to his eyes, wanting to examine what he just did. However, the soldier thought he was going to attack and let out a desperate wail as he ran away frantically.
Although it was good that the threat to his life had disappeared, why was he being treated like a vicious murderer? Was there anyone who could explain what was going on to him? It seemed as though he had become an expert swordsmen a moment ago, but he had lost consciousness while it was happening. Wasn’t this a little too suspicious?
“Look at that, you can actually do something when you put your mind to it. You obviously know swordsmanship, but you still tried to cheat me into saving you.”
Fan Tong felt that being praised by a mop wasn’t anything worth being happy about. He couldn’t even make heads or tails of the situation right now. He needed to know what happened.
“Puhahaha, what did I do just now… Waaaaaaah!” Fan Tong turned around, trying to get a look at the situation, but he immediately noticed two fresh corpses with their eyes still open at his feet. He screamed and took a few steps back to maintain a good distance from them.
“You killed them, why are you scared?”
I killed them? I killed them! What do you mean I killed them?!
“You’re lying! How can a mop cause those kind of cuts on their bodies?”
“There’s no mop here, only a horsetail whisk.”
I actually wanted to say horsetail whisk, but the curse changed it to mop. The curse must think horsetail whisk and mop are antonyms of each other… but that’s not important!
“All right, a horsetail whisk. Regardless of whether it’s mop or horsetail whisk, they aren’t the same! Don’t tell me a horsetail whisk caused those cuts!”
“It’s because I’m not an ordinary horsetail whisk.”
That’s right, you are a horsetail whisk that cost two hundred strings. And?
Exactly what caused those cuts in the end? Am I really the one who killed them? Mom! I killed people! I actually killed people! Why did it turn out like this? Although compared to being killed, killing people is slightly better…
“Oh, are they New Residents? They’ll return to the rebirth pond, right?” Perhaps because he longed to be free of the guilt of this evil crime, Fan Tong’s question came out correctly.
That’s right. Even though they carried soul-purging weapons, I noticed that they were New Residents before I lost consciousness. Luo Yue’s New Residents are allowed to carry soul-purging weapons? Is there a special reason for that?
Just as Fan Tong was comforting himself, Puhahaha rained on his parade.
“…Why?” Don’t tell me it’s because they died within the Eastern City’s territory? That’s not right, I remember someone saying that as long as a person’s body has the Eastern City’s mark, they’ll return to the Eastern City’s rebirth pond regardless of where they die. Shouldn’t it stand to reason that Luo Yue is the same?
“Because,” Puhahaha’s said merrily, “I’m a soul-purging weapon.”
With an exceedingly cheerful voice, Puhahaha dropped an unexpected bomb on Fan Tong.
◎ Fan Tong’s Afterword
No! Goddamn it! Puhahaha, are you really a soul-purging weapon? Why didn’t you tell me earlier? That means I really killed them! I was supposed to be an ordinary citizen not involved in any worldly affairs, why did this have to happen to me?! Indeed, I bought a weapon that cost two hundred strings. Even if I didn’t pay the two hundred strings myself, it’s still two hundred strings. I wanted it to have some special ability, but I didn’t want this kind of illegal special ability that would cause harm to innocent people!
The Eastern City’s law clearly states that New Residents cannot use soul-purging weapons. Am I going to be arrested for this? But I did it unknowingly, I’m innocent! Puhahaha set me up, this heartless mop!
Didn’t Luo Shi say that soul-purging weapons can’t speak? That’s right, only self-aware weapons can speak! Moreover, Puhahaha doesn’t glow. Could Puhahaha simply be messing with me? Could it be pretending to be a soul-purging weapon to raise its own status? Should I find someone to appraise it? No, I can’t get someone to appraise it. If Puhahaha turns out to be a soul-purging weapon, I’d be in big trouble. That won’t do!
Ahhhhhhh! Did I kill them or not? Damn it! This is all Puhahaha’s fault, now I don’t even remember the other things I should be focusing on instead!
Next: Chapter 2: The Magic Sword Guards of Luo Yue’s Young Emperor
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Proofreaders: Sherry, PiKairi, Kudrat, dinoj