Nothing More Tragic in Life (Part 3)
As soon as I stepped outside, I ran into someone I was familiar with. Long Zaitian, who looks as if his face is a cake, was there, at the door, with his men, who were prepared for battle …
‘…was there, at the door, with his men, who were prepared for battle. The door of a brothel, no less… Why does it sound as though it’s a very bad situation?’
Long Zaitian called me as soon as he spotted me, “Ming Feizhen, why aren’t you greeting your superior when you see him?”
I verbally attacked him, “You’re whose superior, again? Didn’t you get demoted to Seventh Rank? I’m a Seventh Rank Warrior. We’re on the same footing.”
Long Zaitian’s three rank demotion was the biggest secret in the imperial court. I didn’t know why it was kept secret, either. In all fairness, he was credited with three merits at the time. I, myself, didn’t know what he did. I heard that he did something while organising the men.
I suddenly realised that he was here to lock down Jin Wangsun’s place.
Long Zaitian looked at me with a grumpy expression as though I stole his credit or something.
“What are you looking at?”
“Look at your reflection in your own piss; who’d want to look at you? The Prime Minister said that he wanted Shuntian Office, us Qilin Guards and Liu Shan Men to send men. Where are your people from Liu Shan Men?”
“Don’t you have eyes to see if they’re here or not? If they were here, wouldn’t you have seen them? Why even bother asking?”
“Heh! Ming Feizhen, you feeling itchy or something? This capt-… capt-capt… needs to teach you a lesson.”
“Aren’t you now just some run-of-the-mill commander?”
“Shut up, loud mouth! Would I be in this state if you didn’t infect me with your plague?!”
‘Wow! This twerp must be really itchy.’
When Long Zaitian and I gave each other the death stare, I suddenly heard a clear voice call me.
“Ming Feizhen!! Get yourself over here!”
The voice was extremely aggressive. It was Her Highness’ voice.
“Wait!” I brashly cut off Long Zaitian and frowned, “Someone is calling for me.”
Long Zaitian looked around and fumed, “Who’s calling you?! Hey! What the hell did you run behind a lion statue for? Would there even be anybody behind there?!!”
I ignored Long Zaitian and quickly ran behind the lion statue.
I was genuinely very worried. Her Highness followed me to the outside of Heavenly Fragrance Garden yesterday. Owing to her mysophobia, she would never go inside. Meanwhile, I fell asleep by accident. Her Highness might have squatted behind the statue all night!
I sped up; I poked my head around the back for a look. I wasn’t surprised to see Her Highness, who just barely managed to hide behind the statue, squatting in a very strange posture. She could no longer maintain her calm demeanour. She clenched her teeth, “Ming Feizhen… where did you go?!”
“I-I went to complete the mission.”
I didn’t dare to tell her I went and slept…
“Your Highness, what’s up?” I looked around to check to make sure nobody was looking. To change the atmosphere, I lowered my voice and spoke in a weird dialect, “What’s goodie? I have someone waiting for me. If nothing’s up, I’m leaving first, ya?”
“I dare you!” Her Majesty thundered. She angrily responded with a dialect of he own, “Whatchu say?! I squat here for the entire night, ya; my legs are all wooden. Hurry and help me up.”
‘Eeeehhhh?!! Her Highness knows can speak Sichuan dialect, too?! She’s from Nanjing, but she’s a Sichuan chick?!’
Her Highness’ tone was cold as usual, but there was a faint sense of pride, “Did you forget where I grew up?”
Nevertheless, owing to her numb legs, her expression looked stiffer than it did proper and serious.
‘Her Majesty went to Emei Sect with Abbess Bailou when she was young. Oh, now I get it. Mount Emei is located in Sichuan; no wonder why Her Highness’ pronunciation was even more authentic than my own.’
‘Fufufu, I didn’t expect that. My Cutie Pie Princess, here, let me help you.’
Her Highness angrily smacked away my hands and sternly exclaimed, “You done grabbing ladies with them hands! Don’t touch me!”
Knowing only a few phrases in Sichuan dialect, I didn’t dare to continue making a fool out of myself. I scratched the back of my head then switched to the tone used by officials.
“How can I help you up without touching you? I do not know the Stained Clothes Eighteen Gropes or whatever.”
Her Highness expressed her disdain for my lack of knowledge, “It’s called ‘Stained Clothes Eighteen Falls’! You’re totally uncultured. Go tell that Long Zaitian to leave, and then bring me two broadswords, sabres or something similar to use as crutches. I’ll use them to stand up myself.”
“Yes, Your Highness. I shall go and do so now.”
I didn’t need to fool Long Zaitian. He had received orders from the Prime Minister to rush to Jin Wangsun’s abode. I then had to go through another attempt to finally help Her Highness up. She had to walk for a while before her blood started circulating properly again.
Having nothing to say, Her Highness tried to start a conversation, “Aren’t you from the North? How do you know Sichuan dialect?”
I subtly smiled, “When I was young, I went everywhere, including Emei.”
‘I even played mahjong with your shifu.’
As we were in the midst of our conversation, someone coming over from ahead of us, asked for directions, “Brother, do you know how to get to Vermillion Street?”
I replied honestly, but then he strangely asked, “Brother, how did your wife suddenly disappear?”
I turned around to find Her Highness had vanished into thin air. I had to haul my butt again to finally find her hiding behind the stone lion of a bar.
“Your Highness, he was a pedestrian just passing by…”
Her Highness went red in the face and ears. Her young face looked red as though she boiled a kettle of water with it, “I know! I’m used to it; you have a problem with that?!”
In order to avoid being revealed, we decided to go back one after the other.
I rushed back to Liu Shan Men, as I needed to find out from him what happened last night, only to be stopped by Second Brother, “Big Bro, I have good news.”
Curious, I asked, “How do we have good news?”
“Your plan worked!”
Second Brother heartily laughed, “I just received news from Hangzhou. Our men have returned to Night Fortress as per your orders. Seventy to eighty percent of our brothers have returned; that snowflake, Jin Wangsun, does not suspect a thing. We can definitely take it back!”
That played out pretty much the way that I expected. There were a large number of people in Gold and Silver Sect who voiced their discontent with Jin Wangsun, thereby preventing him from sending more people to fortify Night Fortress. His only option, therefore, was to recruit people from outside of the sect. I had Third Brother go and tell our original members to return. Naturally, Gold and Silver Sect were happy to welcome the veterans back.”
“Wait for a bit longer. Wait a few more days before taking action. Oh, right, have you seen Tang Ye?”
“He just came back. I think he was getting ready to head out. Didn’t you see him just now?”
I immediately took off running. I saw Tang Ye walking funnily at the main door, causing my heart to skip a beat.
‘Oh, shit! Oh, shit! Something definitely happened! He definitely used muscles that he had never used before, which must be why he’s sore now!!’
‘You stupid virgin! Well-deserved!’
‘What did you do to her?! Didn’t I tell you that you couldn’t touch her?!’
“Tang Ye, get over here!”
The punk’s face looked fresh and cool. He couldn’t help looking away when he saw me.
‘Why don’t you dare to look at me?! Explain yourself!’
Tang Ye lowered his head. He had subtle hot flushes on his face, but didn’t speak. I pressed him for answers.
“Big Bro, it’s all your fault. You were the one who told me to ‘touch some more, touch some more’ and to strip them and whatnot.’
‘I said, besides her, touch the others some more! I didn’t tell you to strip her! You stripped her, and then couldn’t contain yourself?! Your willpower is horrendous! Did you even read my lips properly?!’
Tang Ye sighed. He looked into the distance similarly to someone who became a real man after one night and emotionally sighed, “It’s a long story.”
‘Long story? You virginity is your only long story!’
‘As if you have much to tell, you virgin! At most, you would only have as long as it takes to boil a pot of tea worth of a story! Don’t boast as if you’re some sort of weapon under the blanket!!’
It was then that a bunch of children passing by sung a song as if it was a nursery rhyme, “Kucha, Kucha, Jin Clan has a big pair of underpants. He’s either drawing or training with his sabre at home. If he’s not performing theft, he’s robbing. Don’t laugh and don’t go panicking. His name is Big Golden Vat. Kucha’s name is Dagang. Bit Vat goes, ding, big vat goes, shine, Jin Clan’s Big Vat has no one to talk to except his bedside light…”
There are four unfortunate miseries that one can experience in life: your wife being stolen from you, your, your lover getting banged, your assets are stolen, or strangers on the road laughing at you.
‘Brother Big Vat, you just had all four done to you…’
I suddenly couldn’t bear to think about it any further.
‘I’ll just shut my eyes.’
***Lots of the conversations in this chapter are in Sichuan dialect. I’m not writing strangely. For details, see the points below.
**”What’s up” – I replaced the original with this. The original was actually “What’s the matter/what is it?” but in Sichuan dialect. We don’t have an English equivalent, so I used the closest phrase that has a similar vibe. MTL that. Won’t be explaining the other substitutions I made.
***When MFZ refers to his weird dialect, he uses Sichuan dialect again. Mind you, it’s not casual or rude by any means, but may look so on paper due to a certain dialects subbing characters, switching orders, adding characters etc. To capture that, I’ve reflected that by rewording and adding. He could’ve totally confused Li Hongzhuang, though. A large number of Chinese people will actually struggle to understand a number of dialects, for there are just too many to learn them all. For the record, mandarin is a dialect, too. This is why they even dub their own TV series to standardise the mandarin, as not every actor/actress comes from the same place. Subtle differences can make things barely to completely incomprehensible.
****The character Tang Ye uses for ‘strip’ can also mean ‘besides’.
*****Kucha means pants for anyone who has forgotten