“But being a white tassel means you have no money. Face reality, Fan Tong.” – Luo Shi
“Everyone, we have another new student to welcome today. Aren’t you all incredibly excited?”
The Wushu combat teacher nonchalantly asked, grinning.
What welcome? Why don’t you honestly admit that there’s a new student here for everyone to squash? You look the happiest out of everyone here!
Fan Tong secretly decided to call him ‘Tractor Teacher.’
“Well then, let’s explain our classroom rules to the new student, or has Fan Tong already informed you?”
Fan Tong shook his head, glancing worriedly in Yue Tui’s direction. Yue Tui had also detected the strange atmosphere and slightly knitted his brows.
Fan Tong really wanted to help him, but was powerless against such gang violence…
“The first lesson all new students must learn is to become accustomed to death. Learning Wushu will be astoundingly easier after achieving a fearless attitude.”
Tractor Teacher smiled. Fan Tong considered this to be broken logic, and Yue Tui didn’t accept the ideology with open arms either.
“Everyone died before coming here, Teacher.”
Usually, new students become dumbstruck upon hearing the teacher’s words and can’t react. Very rarely did people rebut the way Yue Tui did, but still, his reasoning would not spare him from the “Newcomer’s Welcoming Ceremony.”
“You’ll only get used to death after experiencing it multiple times. Plus, this is a rare entertainment for our fellow classmates.”
You said it! In the end, you actually said it!
While Fan Tong was going crazy over the teacher’s outrageous remark, Tractor Teacher decided against allowing Yue Tui to debate further. He waved his hand momentarily, then positioned it in the same way that Fan Tong had seen the day before.
“Let’s not waste time, everyone. No need to count down this time. Go-!”
Fan Tong was perturbed by Tractor Teacher’s enthusiastic tone. He closed his eyes, unwilling to witness the forthcoming murder.
Obviously, he didn’t participate in the bloodbath. All he could do was shut his eyes, though that didn’t protect him from hearing the sounds of clashing weapons, beatings, and everyone’s horrified screams… Huh?
Everyone’s horrified screams? Something seemed off here.
Fan Tong opened his eyes,and saw a baffled Tractor Teacher, dropping his jaw in speechlessness at the masses of grumbling students fumbling across the floor.
Yue Tui stood there without a wrinkle on his shirt.
The conclusion had exceeded everyone’s expectations.
He made no particular expression, and smiled reservedly.
“I will kill every one of you.”
Simply a reserved smile; his voice was neither loud nor soft.
Even Tractor Teacher failed to utter a sound at this declaration. Everyone saw the change in the youth’s gaze.
Defeating a bunch of whites wouldn’t determine his skill level, but instilling fear into a red tasseled teacher changed everything.
“Teacher, is there still class today?”
In an instant, Yue Tui reverted back to his previous gentle and polite manner, as if his peculiar aura was all but an illusion, as if it had never existed.
However, those wounded students were solid proof of the reality that had occurred.
“No, what can I even teach you? Class dismissed, class dismissed! If you have time, go boost your rank and transfer to another class, alright? Seriously…”
Class dismissed? That includes me, right?
Tractor Teacher had already lost interest in messing with the newcomers and waved his hand, signaling them to do as they liked. He then used his Fuzhou Communicator, calling for backup to clean up the people still stuck on the floor.
As for whether he brought them to the hospital or simply killed them all for efficiency, Fan Tong didn’t know.
The Wushu combat class unexpectedly ended early and the Wushu literary class hadn’t yet started, so naturally, Fan Tong and Yue Tui spent passing period on their own. Yue Tui came to a standstill at the Wushu Xuan’s center garden, so Fan Tong, who was following, stopped as well.
Fan Tong’s mind whirred and the thoughts within whirled about, including how he “should have dragged Yue Tui to class yesterday, then the tragedy of a poor boy drowning twice after being murdered wouldn’t have happened” and other similar regrets. He didn’t come out of his thoughts until Yue Tui called his name.
“Fan Tong, you actually wanted to tell me not to go to class earlier, right? Thank you.”
Whoa, how did you know?
Fan Tong was quite shocked seeing Yue Tui thank him so wholeheartedly.
“Are you… the type that says things wrong when nervous? I think I understand.”
What Yue Tui said made Fan Tong wide-eyed.
Yue Tui misunderstood, but it wasn’t as if Fan Tong could clarify. At least now Yue Tui wouldn’t take his words as seriously. Though, wouldn’t Fan Tong have to appear nervous all the time then?
“Yue Tui. You’re so weak. Have you been training since you were young?”
Since Yue Tui assumed he said things incorrectly when nervous anyways, Fan Tong decided he might as well use that broken speech of his as much as he pleased. He’d leave it to Yue Tui to translate.
Despite holding a white tassel and never receiving any instruction from Eastern City, Yue Tui still beat all of those students. This sort of power, Fan Tong guessed, he had gained in his previous life and simply carried it over.
How odd. Wasn’t Yue Tui a young master who couldn’t even put on his own clothes? Since when did young masters like him ever start learning martial arts? What world was he living in that while even a fortune teller like Fan Tong wouldn’t bother learning any self-defense to protect his stall, someone who should have plenty of bodyguards possessed such skill in combat? Or had Fan Tong simply been lazy?
Yue Tui appeared slightly sullen when he replied, perhaps recalling some sort of memory.
“Yue Tui. Please don’t go to school with me ever again!”
Fan Tong patted Yue Tui’s shoulders and articulated his words with beaming seriousness.
“…You mean you want me to go with you, right? If not, the words you said don’t match your actions at all…”
If Fan Tong responded with a “No” at this point, he’d definitely confuse Yue Tui. Hence, he prudently nodded his head.
“And yes, I’d like go to school with you. I have some things to ask you about as well… that I’d like clarified.”
Didn’t the tour guide explain everything to him when he arrived? Did he only come to his senses now?
Things he needed to ask… that meant Fan Tong had to act as a substitute tour guide? Wasn’t the difficulty level for this a bit high? Could Yue Tui really rely on the gibberish that comes out of his mouth?
“Sure, but there’s something that’s not important I don’t have to tell you beforehand.”
What Fan Tong must tell Yue Tui is, of course, something he regarded as important. As for the errors in his speech, Fan Tong decided to ignore them.
“If your body dies before it reaches its ten year limit, you have to pay after your third death! White tassels have no salary, so they’ll go in debt, which in turn forces them into manual labor to work that debt off. Not to mention, you have to experience pain whenever you regenerate! Because I died three times tomorrow, I already owe five hundred strings!”
When everything flowed smoothly in the beginning, Fan Tong secretly rejoiced. Sadly, the curse didn’t cut him slack for long. It even cleverly added the rebirth fees of his “three deaths tomorrow.” Fan Tong didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
“Fan Tong, don’t be nervous. Take your time speaking.”
Now Yue Tui was patting Fan Tong’s shoulders. How could he let him know this was not an anxiety problem?
“I also hope I can go salvage you when you die.”
The you’s and me’s had swapped, completely changing the meaning.
“Hm? I can swim by myself, but if you want to retrieve me, I’d be very happy…”
I want you to retrieve me –––! Your probability of dying cannot be higher than mine.
“I’m glad to have met you, Fan Tong. You’re a really nice person. I’ve been living alone in the Eastern City, so all this time I wasn’t sure of what to do…”
When Yue Tui gently smiled the words, Fan Tong couldn’t bring himself to say anything back.
Dad. Mom. I’ve been given the Nice Guy Card. Why can’t the other person be a cute girl? Plus, I didn’t even confess…
Fan Tong and Yue Tui arrived on time and sat in their seats for the start of their next lesson.
Because Yue Tui didn’t bring any textbooks, Fan Tong became a bit worried he’d be bullied by the teacher, but as reality proved, his worries were for naught.
“That student over there, did you not bring your textbooks?”
Weird. It’s the exact same teacher, but why is his tone so much more amicable and affectionate?
“Teacher, I lost them and haven’t applied for new ones yet.”
Not being able to find them and losing them produced the same result, so Yue Tui said it this way.
“Is that right… that student in the next seat, the one who didn’t bring his books yesterday, share with him, alright? You must take care of your fellow classmates.”
What is this difference in treatment? The one who looks better is favored and better liked? But teacher, you’re male, aren’t you? Shouldn’t a man feel a sense of rivalry towards other men who look better than him? Shouldn’t they hold each other as rivals despite the fact that no conflict has occurred yet? Why is your reaction so off from the usual situation? From now on, you’re named the Biased Teacher!
Though Fan Tong felt offended and wanted to dispute, he didn’t feel wronged when Yue Tui scooted over to share his textbook.
According to a lousy novel he randomly picked up when he had nothing to do, this is a scenario people refer to as “You say you don’t want it, but your body is .” Oh well, it isn’t important if I said wrong, since this isn’t what’s important anyways.
“Today, we’ll explain weapons. Everyone flip to page seventy-four.”
Biased Teacher, didn’t we do page seventy-four yesterday? Do you want to be renamed as Alzheimer’s Teacher? Or Slacker Teacher?
“Equally renowned, Queen Xiying’s Lunar Crescent Blade – Skies and Emperor Englar’s Four Stringed Sword – Tian Luo Yan, are both considered godly artifacts. These weapons were passed down the generations and are exclusive to each city’s reular. They originated from the same source as the Eastern City’s Aegis, , and the Western City’s Lunar Gown, Aifroa. With the support of these weapons and armors, the rulers who inherited them all possessed great combat abilities. Our Queen Xiying bears a pure black tassel, an indication of the highest level…”
Fan Tong looked left and right. The students were the same as yesterday’s, so he didn’t run into the wrong room. There’s no A or B class, so that’s not the problem either.
Then, why isn’t anyone correcting the teacher?
“The Lunar Crescent Blade–Skies is renowned for its sharp edge. Likewise, Tian Luo Yan is known for its four cords that encompass four different daunting abilities. As for the aegis Qian Huan Hua…”
It’s the same lesson twice, and it’s plain ol’ direct passage reading both times. Isn’t anyone bored?
“Fan Tong, what is it?”
Yue Tui noticed his expression and quietly mumbled the question.
“We offered this class yesterday.”
Fan Tong also replied softly. He had already decided to simply let Yue Tui decode anything he says on his own.
Before Yue Tui said much more, Biased Teacher opened his mouth.
“Students, don’t talk amongst yourselves. There’re new students who haven’t learned the lesson, so those who have must listen again. Then can we all be on the same page. Understand?”
What one-sided logic is this. If you really wanted to take care of the newcomers, shouldn’t you start from page one?
Out of curiosity, Fan Tong flipped to the beginning and checked the contents. Right on the first flip, he saw some handwritten text plastered across the first page.
“Everything before page seventy-three is a biography of the author. Also, as long as there’s a new student, you have to start over from page seventy-four. If you want to learn this subject, you better read the book yourself.”
The writer of the note was Mi Chong. How considerate of him…
The thing called lunch. If the two of them wanted to eat it, they’d have to eat public rations.
“I’m not very hungry. I think I can go on until dinner.”
So said Yue Tui. Fan Tong thought Yue Tui was pushing himself a bit, but to be honest, he wanted to do the same.
Food that’d destroy his appetite upon thinking about it, having it once a day is enough.
His stomach felt a little unsettled as he went to class without eating breakfast, but thinking about how he’d learn about Shufa next, which he’s never been in contact with before, Fan Tong lightened up and pretended his body was in perfect condition.
The architecture in Shufa Xuan inclined towards a glamorous style. The classroom divisions were more complex than those of Wushu Xuan’s, but one could notice a pattern after walking around a bit. During the search for the correct classroom, all passing students stared at Yue Tui. Fan Tong presumed this is something that’d continue happening.
Yue Tui seemed very used to the onlookers’ gazes and showed no reaction indicating his discomfort. At the same time, Fan Tong saw Shufa students practicing an assortment of miraculous spells. Thinking about how he’d be able to do these things after taking the class, Fan Tong’s mood instinctively brightened.
On Fan Tong’s first lesson, his teacher glanced once at him and sighed.
“You have no talent and there is no hope for you. You can go home now.”
The one sentence he prayed for so earnestly in Wushu Xuan was in fact bestowed upon him in Shufa Xuan. Surely, that brought down his spirits completely.
Especially when the teacher enthusiastically turned to Yue Tui after sighing at him and passionately gripped Yue Tui’s hands, his heart fell even lower.
“Ho! A genius that is found only once in a hundred years! How many generations of luck must the Eastern City have had to get a New Resident like you! When the time comes, don’t forget this teacher of yours, alright!”
The teacher can see talent at one glance? Fan Tong refused to believe it. He’d definitely be able to learn Shufa! Even if he couldn’t learn as fast as Yue Tui, as long as he put in the effort, there’d be results!
Thus, Fan Tong awarded him with the label Blind Teacher, although the name did include a few parts of Fan Tong’s discontent to it.
“Stuents. Look at the textbooks you’re holding. Can you see the Shufa energy flowing on it?”
Everyone in the room lowered their heads to look, including Fan Tong.
…Great, he saw nothing. Isn’t it just a regular ol’ book? Is this a prank? Like the Emperor’s new clothes? How only smart people will see it and no one can, but in reality, he’s just naked…
“Yue Tui, what energy is flowing?”
“Hm? It’s right here.”
Yue Tui pointed at the book Fan Tong was holding.
“Gradually, starting here, the line of energy writes out… words, I’m assuming? But I don’t understand the Eastern City’s language. It should look like this if I copied it.”
Yue Tui traced his fingers across the imprints he saw. Fan Tong became silent again.
“See one line, you are in. See two lines, you win. See three lines, you’re a genius. See no lines, go home now!”
Even the textbook discriminated against him, but that’s not what’s important. What was the meaning behind placing that on the fourth line? Is it because people normally can’t see the lines, so they used it to joke around? If seeing three lines makes one a genius, what does seeing the fourth mean? Or is the one joking with him Yue Tui? But Yue Tui doesn’t understand the Eastern City’s word form!
“Fan Tong, what do these words mean?”
Yue Tui also had his fair share of interest in knowing what the hidden words on the book meant, so he asked him.
Without doubt it was an innocent question, but he still felt his heart being stabbed there…
“It’s just saying that the people who can see the lines are really dumb, hahaha.”
Thanks to the curse, it made him sound like a jealous sour plum saying the opposite thing on purpose.
“Fan Tong… relax.”
Yue Tui patted his shoulders and faintly sighed, but Fan Tong still heard it regardless.
I can’t see it even if I am relaxed! I can’t accept this–––
After a class of Shufa, Yue Tui could already perform some telekinesis while Fan Tong remained in his “Regular Joe” position.
Could it be because he was a commoner his past life, he’d have to remain a common ghost after death as well?
No, more importantly, he’s already given up on getting any results for Wushu, and it’s been determined he had no chance in Shufa. That meant Fuzhou was his last hope! If that didn’t work, did that mean he’d forever stay a white tassel and eternally earn no money?
After the setback from Shufa Xuan, Fan Tong felt discouraged and utterly anxious. The reality that Fuzhou was his last hope made him more restless as he stepped onto the Fuzhou Xuan’s grounds. Of course, escaping reality helps no one. He’d eventually have to go to class to see if he’s capable, but only on the precondition that he can reach the classroom.
The layout of Wushu Xuan leaned towards simplicity and Shufa Xuan’s toward elaboration and intricacy. Fuzhou Xuan, on the other hand, could be called a labyrinth.
Yes, not just a maze, but a huge maze. Charms, both working ones and student experimental ones, were stuck in all directions. It looked exactly like a huge maze undergoing some exorcism ritual.
As for the “huge” part, that’s because Fuzhou Xuan is filled with new dimensions as well as illusions created by the charms. For instance, you’d crash into a wall where there’s clearly a road, but when there’s a wall, you can pass through it…
Finding one’s classroom in this delusive place truly wasn’t easy. Fan Tong was an amateur in deciphering the charms, and Yue Tui couldn’t even read the characters on the papers. Wandering around lost for some time, they were about to belate.
When one is powerless, he should ask for help. But Fan Tong’s luck tended to be dreadful. Even when he attempted asking, he’d end up talking to fake human mannequins created by Fuzhou. Maybe that was a talent in its own right.
It’s time to give up on Fuzhou Xuan. Why don’t you just accept your fate?
No! How can I just give up like this!
They’ve already drifted to a place with no humans in sight whatsoever. Finding their way back had also become a puzzle. The problem morphed from “Will they be late to class?” to “Will they be trapped in here forever without anyone finding them and die?” Above all, Yue Tui was here with him. When the time comes, there’d still be no one to salvage him. That’s just…
Right then, a cord was struck and Fan Tong was enlightened. Having so many regulations on rebirths was set in hopes that New `Residents won’t take dying too casually, huh?
If someone committed suicide whenever they got lost, that’d be too terrible.
He thought those thoughts, but truthfully, he was considering suicide right about then. He could start over from the main doors… But, even if he had the heart to bear an extra hundred strings to his debt, in addition to the two hundred strings worth of pain during regeneration, there’d be no point as class would have already ended by the time he came back.
Then at this moment, he suddenly heard a familiar and incomparably heartwarming voice.
“Fan Tong? How’d you get all the way here?”
Luo Shi walked to him while giving him an odd look.
“Also, what did you do yesterday? I saw the records. Why do you have a two hundred string debt all of a sudden? You died three times?”
Luo Shi really cares for him. He even looked at the records to check up on him, thought Fan Tong. Fan Tong felt pampered and surprised.
“I didn’t come to school to go to class.”
“It’s such a hassle to understand you… huh?”
While Luo Shi looked annoyed and complained, he suddenly noticed Yue Tui standing behind Fan Tong. His entire expression changed.
In the time Fan Tong had blinked his eyes, Luo Shi had already zapped to Yue Tui and was clutching his arms fervidly.
Fan Tong was baffled for a second.
Did he just hear an incredibly alarming name?
While Fan Tong was still recovering from the bewilderment, Luo Shi’s words also shocked Yue Tui and rendered him incapable of responding. Luo Shi gaped at him for a couple extra seconds and released his hands in disappointment.
No. Not Hui shi. They only look alike. But he’s not Hui Shi.
Actually, Hui Shi probably won’t come back anymore, right? Maybe there was some accident, maybe something happened.
Everyone had assumed this for a long time. Only he refused to accept it.
“Luo Shi, are you alright?”
Fan Tong asked considerately, as he saw the Luo Shi’s expression changing from his excitement earlier to a grim silence now. He didn’t look alright.
“…It’s nothing. You are?”
Luo Shi quickly answered Fan Tong and looked towards Yue Tui to investigate his identity.
“Yue Tui; I’m Fan Tong’s friend.”
Yue Tui answered with a soft smile. Fan Tong who stood nearby felt touched during this instant.
Fan Tong’s friend, Fan Tong’s friend, Fan Tong’s friend.
This was the first time in his entire life someone proclaimed to be his friend!
Sigh, actually, as he’d already been transported from his original world to Huan Shi, this meant that this would be the first time in both lives combined…
“Fan Tong’s friend?”
Luo Shi made a face and eyed Fan Tong suspiciously.
“When did you make a friend? You were able to with that speech tendency of yours? How did you cheat him into this?”
You don’t’ have to be this suspicious, right? Do we hold a grudge against each other? Or do you want to be my only friend?
“Ugh, Yue Tui, he is…”
Recalling the fact that Yue Tui’s knowledge about the Eastern City is as good as none, Fan Tong wanted to help with introductions. Before he decided how to introduce, he stopped his mouth.
Good thing he hadn’t started, or the curse would force him to finish the entire sentence. What resulted would have definitely been a catastrophe.
For example, if he was to say “Luo Shi is one of the Five Attendants in the Eastern City, the Queen’s son,” it might as well turn into “Luo Shi is one of the Five Attendants in the Eastern City, the Queen’s old man,” “Luo Shi is one of the Five Attendants of Eastern City, and the son of the Western City’s Emperor,” or some other rude slander. Despite knowing of Fan Tong’s problem, Luo Shi probably wouldn’t forgive him. This chip on the shoulder could last a lifetime…
“I know. He’s Luo Shi.
Yue Tui smiled.
“The Eastern City’s Queen’s son.”
Although he didn’t add any honorifics, but probably because he said it with a warm smile, or because he naturally held no ill intention, or because his face looked six-sevenths parts like Hui Shi, Luo Shi didn’t mind.
Hui Shi was like an older brother to him.
Hui Shi wouldn’t call him Lord Luo Shi.
“Why don’t you know about him…”
Could it be that you looked up on the bishounen?
Fan Tong felt his thoughts were a bit terrible.
In a minute now, we’d need to go to class.
“Luo Shi, our class in Shufa Xuan is starting soon. Do you mind taking us there? We can’t understand this place…”
“It’s Fuzhou Xuan.”
Yue Tui corrected.
“You two got lost and came all the way here? Ah, whatever, I’ll take you there. Fan Tong, someone like you can’t be understood using common sense.”
Luo Shi put on a whole given-up attitude towards Fan Tong before pulling out a piece of white paper. Using his fingers, he deftly wrote out ‘the common’ on the Fuzhou. Where his fingers glided, marks of light lingered. When the charm was completed, he threw it upwards.
“Quan Song Zhou!”
The lights atop the charm burst out in front of him. In the blink of an eye, the nearby surroundings shifted to those of another location. The wonder of Fuzhoushu completely astonished Fan Tong. Speaking of which, Luo Shi used Fuzhou to battle when they first met. It seems Fuzhou is his strong point.
“You leave school after this class, right? Usually, there’re no more classes afterwards.”
“No, school ends after this class.”
It’s so easy to tell which response belonged to Fan Tong.
“Let’s eat dinner together? Wait for me at the campus doors after class.”
No matter how strong the curse, Fan Tong successfully yelled out that okay with iron-willed determination in the end.
Ahhhhhh, we don’t need to eat the public rations for dinner tonight? Thank you for your grace and virture, Lord Luo Shi–
Although Fan Tong suspected inside that seventy percent of Luo Shi’s motive for inviting them was due to Yue Tui, he didn’t care. What’s not to like about getting a free ride?
“Your classroom is that one over on the left. See you later.”
Because he could shed the public rations nightmare tonight, Fan Tong temporarily forgot about his heartache from Shufa Xuan and went to class.
As Fan Tong and Yue Tui stepped into their classroom, the students already inside all stared at them strangely. Fan Tong, by now, could understand the general meaning behind those stares. Everyone’s ogling at Yue Tui wasn’t only because he looked pretty, but also because of a larger reason: he looked very similar to the missing Hui Shi.
But, there was another meaning behind the stares right now.
“Lord Luo Shi accompanied them to the classroom…”
“Aren’t they just white tassels?”
“Who is that? Lord Hui Shi’s relative?”
“But he’s a Westerner! One of those evil Westerners!”
It’s not that Fan Tong wanted to mention it, but these students’ conversations amongst themselves were simply too loud. When even a commoner like him could hear each word clearly, it would not be wrong to say that their volume was definitely too high. Or should he say, they didn’t even bother trying to cover up? Or in all probability, they said it on purpose for them to hear?
“Fan Tong, the students don’t look very friendly.”
Yue Tui turned around and said to him.
…Yue Tui. That sentence of yours, if counted as a private conversation, was said too loudly. You were too loud as well. You were too loud, I say! Are you purposely saying that to them? Or are you doing this unknowingly? Don’t you see them glaring at us!
Maintaining a friendly bond and keeping connections with everyone is key! Not making enemies! Though there isn’t much hope left with those guys in Wushu Xuan…
“You can’t really say if they’re unfriendly or not…”
Developing his keen sense for others’ emotions through his job as a fortune teller for many years, how could Fan Tong not notice the less than friendly vibes?
“You were just complimented with a few words by the Shufa teacher. Do you think you’re all that now?”
Speaking of which, in the classes Fan Tong took for these three subjects, repeating students weren’t a common occurrence. But at the same time, that also meant there were still some repeats.
From what Fan Tong could see, someone who’d say something like that was probably near the “go home” level in “See one line, you are in. See two lines, you are win. See three lines, you’re a genius. See no lines, go home now!” Not as if the guy could see all the way to the fourth line, but rather, he probably couldn’t even see the first…
So is that a fellow companion he can’t meet? Fan Tong grieved vaguely within his heart.
Towards that student who voiced his thoughts, Yue Tui only glanced once over in his direction to express his knowing and turned back without giving a reply. This attitude of ignoring others naturally enraged the other person further.
The student stomped over in big steps and slammed his palm on Yue Tui’s desk, glaring furiously at him. Out of the blue, Fan Tong suddenly wanted to ask if he’s a good student of that Tractor Teachers’. He seemed quite competent in performing violent actions.
Yue Tui adjusted the angle of his head, lifting it to see him. As their eyes met, his pair of sky blue eyes appeared entirely calm.
“Move your hands away. Go back to your seat. It’s time for our lesson, classmate.”
His imperative sentences flowed out incredibly smoothly, and upon hearing Yue Tui’s words whilst being stared at by him, that student actually listened. He returned to his seat, his steps a little wispy. From that surrounding area came a chain of remarks, including “What are you doing?” “Why’d you listen to him?” “You’re not really scared of him because he looks a bit like Lord Hui Shi, are you?” and the like. Fan Tong also found this development fairing in quite a fascinating direction.
As the one Yue Tui stared at wasn’t him and the one he talked to wasn’t him either, so Fan Tong couldn’t replicate the person’s feelings in this situation.
“Yue Tui, you…”
Right when Fan Tong wanted to say something to Yue Tui, Yue Tui looked at him nervously.
“Did I deal with it well? I’ve never received education in dealing with this sort of situation, so I could only improvise and make it up on the spot. What do you think?”
…With you saying that, I really don’t know what to say any more. Also, the volume you are speaking at now matches the requirements of private conversation, so that means you can speak in a low voice. Then that earlier really was on purpose, wasn’t it? Wasn’t it?
The teacher had arrived now, so of course, they couldn’t chitchat any longer. Fan Tong obediently straightened his back and waited for the Fuzhou teacher to determine his fate.
Except, the Fuzhou teacher didn’t seem to make a hobby out of determining someone’s talent at first glance, which also meant Fan Tong wouldn’t know his fate right in the moment he stepped into class. He’d have to start learning to know.
After the teacher passed out the necessities to each student, he properly began to introduce the class. The study of Fu Zhou mainly focused on training two aspects: the ability to use charms and the ability to draw charms.
To become a successful Fuzhoushi, a person obviously needs to be equipped with both skills. If he’s only able to do one or the other, he’d be called a Fushi or a Huafushi. Fushi must rely on charms others have written to battle, while Huafushi can only provide or sell charms for others to use. Neither of these were ideal situations.
If one doesn’t have enough ability when using a Fuzhou, the spell in high-class charms won’t activate and the effect of spells from low-class charms won’t serve its full potential.
And if his ability when drawing charms is insufficient, in the worst case scenario, the person won’t be able to draw even one working charm. In a better case, the charm may have warped functions or the spell may initiate too slowly or the like.
Seeing how Luo Shi can directly draw and use his charms, he should possess capability in both aspects.
This teacher taught very methodically and didn’t have any special characteristics, so Fan Tong decided to call him the Normal Teacher.
Nothing complex would be taught in the first lesson. In general, it included the method to use the charm papers and some beginners’ techniques to drawing charms. In order to draw a functioning charm, all charms one draws on the paper must be correctly linked to one another. This point wasn’t far from Fan Tong’s expectations. As expected, his skills in calligraphy could be put to use. After writing out his first effective Fuzhou after only a few tries, Fan Tong contentedly beamed a smile.
Looking at Yue Tui’s side, it seemed he had encountered some trouble.
“Yue Tui, can you do it?”
Yue Tui looked at him with both a headache and heartache. It looked like he’d finally ask for help.
“Fan Tong, how do you write with this flimsy soft pen?”
Fan Tong felt a bit weak.
He had already forgotten: Westerners have never seen calligraphy brushes before… but in this sort of place, there’re no feather pens or fountain pens. Moreover, is it even allowed to write the charm without using a calligraphy brush?
Luo Shi used his fingers to write one earlier, so there’re probably other ways, right? But for this matter, he’ll have to ask the teacher. How would he know about things like this?
“You need to learn calligraphy. It can’t be hurried. I won’t teach you when we go back.”
This sort of speech pattern sounded very gauche. Yue Tui must mistake him for a very anxious person by now…
Before class ended, Normal Teacher had everyone pass up their practice papers for checking. When he saw Fan Tong’s Fuzhou, Normal Teacher nodded his head in approval.
“Not bad. This charm’s completion level is very high. Although it’s the simplest Fuzhou, you were able to have such result from the first lesson. We can have good expectations for your ability in Huafu in the future.”
Fan Tong felt a sense of fulfillment from his Fuzhou class. People really do need to be praised. What a fine thing it is to be praised!
“Teacher, what type of charm is this?”
Because the charm was directly drawn according to a sample the teacher provided, Fan Tong still hadn’t made clear the functions of this charm. In memory of his first functioning Fuzhou, he did want to know its name.
“This is a fire-based beginner’s attack spell – Driven Fire.”
The first spell he drew, was the same one from that first time he died.
It truly held plenty memorial value…
After they left the class for Fuzhou Xuan, Fan Tong and Yue Tui waited for Luo Shi at their set meeting spot in front of the campus gates. Soon afterwards, Luo Shi’s somewhat petite body appeared. When they greeted each other, they naturally became a center of attention again.
It’s expected that meeting at a place with such heavy crowding easily attracts attention, but with Luo Shi’s background, he shouldn’t mind such things. As one of the Five Attendants in the Eastern City, he’d be watched by many people in the first place.
“Fan Tong, how was Fuzhou class?”
Sigh. Can’t it allow him to express the joy within his heart just a little? This blasted curse.
“Fan Tong is so humble, when he actually did so well.”
Yue Tui said with a smile. In the end, he was complimented for this misunderstanding. It’s almost the same as when his business became busier after he was cursed. This really made his feelings quite complicated as to what to say.
“I thought you’d be skilled at drawing charms when I first saw the words you wrote. How about Yue Tui? Were you successful?”
It seemed Luo Shi still wasn’t very used to speaking with Yue Tui. When he turned to ask him, he looked a bit discomfited.
As Luo Shi could speak with him so easily, Fan Tong didn’t understand.
Could it be because he’s the type that’s easy to talk to? Or is it because he didn’t have the aura that called for others’ respect…
“I’m not very good.”
Yue Tui gave a pained smile. He had to wipe ink off of his face today, and had to wash up before coming out.
If he hadn’t learned the word form of the Eastern City yet, he could still trace the teacher’s sample, but if he didn’t know how to use a calligraphy brush, then there’s really no helping it. Towards his shortcoming, Fan Tong didn’t feel he needed any sympathy.
He’s a prodigy only seen once in a hundred years in Shufa, and he looked pretty strong in Wushu, then there’s no problem in having a weakness in Fuzhou, right? He already possessed an assurance for his future from those other skills. Besides, people are cuter when they have some flaws. For example, not knowing how to wear clothes works as one. If the person’s as perfect as a saint, then he’d seem aloof and distant.
“Is that so…”
Luo Shi looked a bit strange, and turned to Fan Tong once again.
“Fan Tong, does he know about your speech disorder?”
“He can understand the Western City’s language…”
Luo Shi caught the gist of this sentence’s original meaning: He can’t understand the Eastern City’s language.
Which also meant he couldn’t explain it to him.
“Then how do you two communicate…”
Luo Shi looked at the two of them, feeling a fascination for the world’s wonders.
“Is there something with Fan Tong’s speech?”
Yue Tui didn’t really understand what topic they were talking about and so he inquired.
“Do you honestly think his speech is normal?”
If that was true, the one that’s abnormal would be Yue Tui.
“It’s not that normal… I thought that he gets nervous and says things wrong easily, is that not it?”
Seeing Yue Tui’s clear eyes, Luo Shi couldn’t open his mouth to correct him.
“…If that’s what you believe, that it’s fine.”
Fan Tong widened his eyes.
Luo Shi! Explain for me! You can speak normally, can’t you?
“Fan Tong, why don’t you consider this as a temporary training? If not, teach him to understand the Eastern City’s words faster.”
“Don’t help me…”
“Why do I have to help you? You still haven’t returned the five strings of qian to me. Looking at you know, it seems waiting for you to return it would take forever.”
Yeah. Even if he wanted to return it first, he couldn’t. All his salary and income from public service directly gets transmitted to suppress his debt, unless he works privately to make money.
“All right, let’s go. I’ll take you guy somewhere good to eat.”
Luo Shi beamed at them while saying this. Nhn, it appeared the amount of gazes shooting at them have increased again…
“You two couldn’t find the classroom but could walk to the campus gates from it?”
“Following the other students will eventually lead us out here.”
They’d just have to follow the students when they’re about to leaving. The power of grouping is very strong. And that was how they followed the mob and came to the school doors. But in reality, they didn’t remember the paths they walked to get out here.
The next time they want to attend class, finding the classroom will remain a difficulty.
“At first glimpse, the classrooms in Fuzhou Xuan appear very jumbled and disorderly, but there is still a certain order to it. After you learn about more spells, you’ll pass those roads and spaces effortlessly.”
While Luo Shi said that, he handed them a map of Fuzhou Xuan. With this map, at least they can determine how far they’d gotten lost.
“You’re welcome. Then the maps for Shufa Xuan and Wushu Xuan, would you incidentally…”
“If you need a map for even Shufa Xuan and Wushu Xuan, you might as well have another round in reincarnation.”
You don’t have to be that cruel, do you?
At this time, the restaurant service worker had brought them some steaming hot tea and placed on the tables an intricately made menu. Yue Tui couldn’t even read the characters on the menu, so naturally he wouldn’t be able to place an order himself. Even if he could, he’d probably have no idea what the dish names mean. On the other hand, Fan Tong could understand the dish names, but he could also understand the prices behind them. Although it appeared that Luo Shi wass treating them and he wouldn’t have to worry about the cost, he still felt guilty about making someone else pay. Hence, the two of them looked towards Luo Shi.
“Just pick whatever you want.”
Luo Shi looked at them oddly.
This restaurant differed from the place Fan Tong borrowed five strings to eat at last time. Even the appetizers started at ten strings. Plus, to prevent disruption from other guests, they were seated in a reserved room. If this wasn’t the usual treatment the restaurant gives Luo Shi, then it probably cost extra money… This is probably Luo Shi’s usual standard of living, huh? In the end, he’s still a prince. His capacity to consume can’t be counted in the same way as a regular red tassel’s.
“I can’t understand the menu. Could you decide for me?”
Yue Tui gave up on inspecting the words he couldn’t comprehend at all. With his voicing, Fan Tong also hurried to verbalize.
“I’ve never been here before. Could you recommend us something disgusting to eat?”
He wanted to ask for a recommendation for something good to eat… Luo Shi would understand him, he believed.
“If that’s how it is, I’ll decide then.”
As a result, Luo Shi ordered the same thing for the three of them.
The time before the food appears is obviously the time to chat. Chatting promotes empathy between one another, so finding a topic to talk about was essential.
“Is Luo Shi a teacher in Fuzhou Xuan?”
Until now, three out of four teachers he saw were red tassels. Then Luo Shi, who also bore a bright red tassel, should have the qualifications to be a teacher. It’s only that Luo Shi is a Natural Resident, so logically, even if he were a teacher, he’d teach the Natural Residents.
“No, I’m… still learning.”
When Luo Shi answered, a shadow seemed to have shaded over his face. Fan Tong couldn’t identify with his anguish and continued to ask.
“Wha, aren’t red tassels really weak already? Then who’s your teacher?”
Although he understood the sentence came out this way due to the curse, Luo Shi still felt stabbed by those words, and thus grew a bit unhappy.
“Yin Shi and Ling Shi can be counted as my teachers, although the time they instruct me isn’t very much.”
He’s actually being taught by the two rectors… truly a treatment only a prince can enjoy. Logically, rectors are held responsible as supervisors and wouldn’t teach classes. If he was taught by them, the lessons were probably very enlightening.
Then what about Wei Shi? He was the temporary rector of Wushu Xuan–he’s not teaching?
“You want to ask about Wei Shi and Hui Shi?”
Luo Shi grunted and looked displeased, but he didn’t reject talking about them.
Fan Tong didn’t know his expressions were so easy to understand.
“Among the Five Attendants, Wei Shi’s actions are quite prejudiced. No one really likes him and aren’t very close to him. As for Hui Shi…”
When he reached Hui Shi, Luo Shi paused for a moment, as though he didn’t know what words and what attitude he should have when speaking about him.
“I didn’t hear that Hui Shi was missing for two years.”
When “heard” changed to “didn’t hear,” it felt like he was trying to hide something but ended up revealing himself.
Luo Shi looked away, towards a corner of the room as if his heart wasn’t there.
“On a certain day two years ago, he suddenly disappeared. He never came back afterwards.”
He stopped here didn’t continue. The sadness that resonated from him suddenly created a silence between the three of them.
Ultimately, he practically said nothing about Hui Shi. Fan Tong already knew about his disappearance two years ago. Luo Shi merely repeated what he already knew…
“Why don’t you say a bit more.”
Sitting on the side, Yue Tui suddenly voiced his words.
“When New Residents come to Huan Shi, it means they are completely cut from their past friends and family. If your heart accepts it, then you’ll feel better.”
Fan Tong felt alright really. In the first place, his parents died long ago, so the only connection he’d be cut from was probably that fortune-telling business of his. Even then, he didn’t hold much affection towards that store.
“Hui Shi might not have died!”
Luo Shi was very sensitive to this sort of topic and instantly refuted.
“He just hasn’t come back yet, he just…”
At this, Luo Shi became quiet again. All these words sounded like excuses, excuses to explain Hui Shi’s disappearance, or actually, excuses to convince himself?
He was always waiting for Hui Shi to come back. He couldn’t bring himself to tell this to anyone.
As though he’d be ridiculed if he said it. Then he’d also succumb to the influence and think Hui Shi really wouldn’t come back.
Every day, every single day, he’d look far out beyond the city gates at night. Then he’d add a new stroke to the notebook he had.
Anyone who knew this would find him foolish.
Seeing his expression, Yue Tui said no further and quietly sipped his tea.
They really shouldn’t have talked about Hui Shi, Fan Tong felt.
Speaking of Hui Shi only made the atmosphere even stiffer…
Their food came now, timed perfectly to shift their attention. But with this atmosphere, any good food tasted rather bland. What a waste.
“The Eastern City’s Five Attendants, are you all really free usually?”
Switching the topic was vital. Fan Tong had only heard there were Five Attendants under the Queen with high social status, but as for what exactly they did and what duties they performed regularly, he was unclear.
As for ‘busy’ being changed to ‘free’, he minded it no longer. He was already thanking the heavens for not changing the Eastern City to the Western City or Luo Yue.
“I’m not telling you.”
Luo Shi rebelliously replied, perhaps influenced by the earlier conversation. Though this was slightly immature remark, why did it sound rather cute… It must have been because the one saying it is a bishounen. If Mi Chong said the same words, Fan Tong probably won’t be able to resist from punching him.
“What? You were just rejected once. You’re not going to ask again?”
Luo Shi was displeased again.
“If you ask a few more times, I might tell you, you know.”
…What is this now? Ask a few more times? That’s no problem, but the next time I ask, what happens if the Eastern City becomes the Western City?
“Could you tell us about the Five Attendants’ jobs?”
Yue Tui asked for him. What a nice person.
“Hm… A more general job right now is taking turns to snatch people from the Chen Yue pathway. Individually, Yin Shi, Ling Shi and Wei Shi, for example, are accountable for directing the campus. Ling Shi also takes care of sealing the New Residents’ memory. Things like this.”
From Luo Shi’s composed tone, for some reason he didn’t know, Fan Tong almost heard a sense of self-pity.
Ngh, is because he’s not used? But a red tassel can’t really be a rector…
“My ability only brings me to a bright red tassel. Natural Residents won’t be reborn after they die, so I can’t participate in anything important or dangerous.”
Alright, Fan Tong can understand where his sense of self-pity comes from now. But must he push himself so hard? If it was up to Fan Tong, he’d be more than happy to stay away from anything dangerous.
“You’re only fourteen years old. Having a red tassel is already very amazing.”
His words of encouragement came out properly, which was wonderful. While Fan Tong rejoiced, Luo Shi’s eyes suddenly turned dangerous.
“You said amazing… that means you wanted to say horrible, is it?”
How awful. He still heard the opposite meaning.
“The ten percent… you remember the ten percent chance, right?”
If this misunderstanding persisted, he’d fail to explain even if he had a hundred mouths and would most likely end up with much more than he can chew. Fan Tong terribly wanted to justify himself, but Yue Tui continued to look at them with a confused expression.
“Whatever. He was young too. Hui Shi was already a pale black tassel at seventeen.”
With the effort he put in, how did the topic still revolved back to Hui Shi? Is this what’s known as big brother’s shadow? Also, comparing yourself to people above you is very hard. Why don’t you consider all those who aren’t as good as you?
“You’re not seventeen yet, though.”
Yue Tui added in, again. It sounded logical enough. Hm, no, the reasoning was rather peculiar.
“Hui Shi was already a purple tassel when he was fourteen.”
Luo Shi puckered his brow in refute.
“But Hui Shi is Hui Shi, and you are you. Why do you have to be the same as Hui Shi?”
“Because I am the Queen’s son!”
Hahhh, why don’t you listen to Yue Tui’s words? I think they deserve some space for consideration…
“The Queen’s son, so you have to respond to everyone’s expectations and be stronger than everyone else?”
Yue Tui contested in a light tone and also answered his own question.
“I think… no matter whether in the Eastern City or the Western City, no matter New Residents or Natural Residents, the important thing is to remember how to ‘smile,’ and how to stop oneself from being engulfed in negative emotions…”
Luo Shi stiffened for a moment and didn’t say anything more. Fan Tong felt quite troubled.
Ahhhh! What atmosphere is this! Can we not remain in this gloomy mood! I don’t like it like this!
“…This is the money for the meal.”
Luo Shi tossed the money on the table and stood up.
“I’m leaving first. You two can sit longer.”
Is this the legendary situation of parting on bad terms————-
“Thank you for treating us.”
Yue Tui politely expressed his gratitude. Fan Tong could only follow it with the usual adieu.
“You’re welcome. Leave already.”
“…Fan Tong, that speech problem of yours is terrible.”
Luo Shi left them this sentence and walked down the stairs.
not like I want to—-!
◎ Fan Tong’s Afterword
The more people I come to meet, the more normal I feel I am. There’s nothing bad about being a normal person. It’s acceptable as long as I can make friends who aren’t.
You say I’ve said I’m a blessed genius, and more than once? That’s in regards to fortune-telling, you know. If you tell me to compete in fortune-telling with Yue Tui, I’d definitely win. How would we compete? Of course, we’ll grab a random person off the street and look at his palms or something. Not to mention, Yue Tui still doesn’t know calligraphy yet, so it’s certain that I’d win. Yeah, you have a problem with that? Is having confidence a bad thing? Stop trying to upset me by saying how the curse made my business better! I’m immune to it already! Immune! Do you hear me!
I’ve attended a class from each of the three main schools in the Eastern City and have found my new talent now. Wushu Xuan, doesn’t matter even if I don’t go to class. Shufa Xuan, tch, so what if I have no talent, who wants it? As long as I do well Fuzhou!
But they haven’t started teaching us the ability to use spells. What’d happen if I can only draw charms… What’d you say? I can just draw charms for Yue Tui to use? I don’t want such a tragic ending! Why must I be a nameless servant working in the background, and all the recognition and reputation be given to other people! I want to face enemies head on as well, you know! But of course, it’s better to leave it to others if it gets too dangerous…
I seriously think people who keep their thoughts inside without saying them will eventually become ill. But with my vernacular talent, counseling Luo Shi seems a bit difficult. Although I know I’d find the guy if I go to the city gates in the middle of the night, if I don’t have a speech prepared, there’s no use even if I see him.
Speaking of which, I still haven’t asked how Yue Tui died. Nor have I asked about his background. Is he really as I thought, a rich young master?
Digging into someone else’s privacy on the first day is not very appealing. I guess I’ll wait until our relationship’s a bit sturdier before I ask. Our bond can begin with us going to school together and lugging each other’s bodies out together. I believe we’d be inseparable buddies after we salvage one another a few times. Sigh, right, I can also teach him calligraphy.
I wonder if I can ask him to challenge Mi Chong for me?…
But that’s all talk. As a man, I’d have to do it myself when exacting revenge, you know! Ahahahahah!
Next: Chapter 4: Settling In.
Previous: Chapter 2: A Human Really Should “Love Thy Neighbor”.
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