The half-hearted smile on Bei Shi’s face finally turned sincere. He pressed a hand on Chang An’s forehead with one hand, just as if he was still a child, and dotingly rubbed it hard twice. He scolded, “Who are you calling Bei Shi? Call me Shifu!”
Chang An honestly lowered his head and cooperated with his casual tossing. “Shifu.”
When Chang An smiled, he would smile very subtly. Shan Xi and the others had never seen his eyebrows all bent up. His features seemed to warm up all of a sudden, like clear water in a fine white porcelain bowl having a layer of indescribably beautiful ripples.
Bei Shi’s expression lightened a little. After looking at him for a moment, he had a bit of mixed feelings in his heart. It was as if time had quickly gone by without a trace, and only in the memory of the little thing that didn’t even reach his waist was there anything worth noting.
Like bamboo shoots after a spring rain, he broke through the soil overnight, and in the blink of an eye, became an adult.
For a moment, Bei Shi didn’t know where to start. In the end, he just patted him on the shoulder and sighed. “You’ve grown taller. Very good. It’s just… you seem a bit thinner.”
It was probably because he hadn’t seen Chang An for a long time that Bei Shi found him a little strange. He couldn’t tell where it was strange though, but he always felt that he had lost some weight.
Chang An also felt that Bei Shi seemed a little haggard. His features were dim, as was the wine flask at his waist.
“Other family’s children are fed with rice, but you were fed with medicine. Eat a little more, and don’t be picky. When the season changes, take your medicine on time. Don’t think about…” Bei Shi’s voice abruptly stopped. Those few words seemed to haven’t had time to pass through his brain when they slipped directly out of his mouth. At this time, he reacted and immediately coughed awkwardly. He shut his mouth, feeling that he was getting old.
Having nothing else to say, he sold out the man who’d been silently following beside him. Pointing to him, he said to Chang An, “This is Hai Lan, and he talks like a wooden club. Don’t be mean1一般见识 – to lower oneself to sb’s level; to argue with sb less well-informed. The next “mean” that Bei Shi says is also from the same characters. to him.”
Then Bei Shi laughed at himself and flicked Chang An’s forehead. “Oh, what being mean. I have forgotten. He’s a big wooden club, and you are a small wooden club. There’s not much difference between you two.”
Chang An glanced at Hai Lan and saw that this man’s face was rather awe-inspiring. Although he was reticent, he was also quite imposing and majestic. At this time, however, his expression was quite ordinary, and he seemed to have no objections in being a “wooden club,” so Chang An also felt at ease in becoming his kind.
Bei Shi still wanted to say some more, but when the words reached his mouth, they were blocked back by a fit of coughing. He frowned, raised his hand to interrupt what Chang An wanted to ask, and said hoarsely, “Choked on a few mouthfuls of wind—Alright, little pup, quickly show me the way.”
Chang An walked in front of them to lead the way, and as soon as he turned around, Bei Shi saw the particularly conspicuous hairband on his head. He immediately raised his hand and grabbed Chang An’s hair.
Chang An stopped in his tracks and grimaced in pain. His scalp was pulled quite painfully, but he was not angry. He just carefully pulled his hair out while asking in confusion, “Shifu, why are you pulling my hair?”
Bei Shi pointed to the conspicuous ring of white fur on his head, narrowed his eyes, and asked with a smile that was not quite a smile, “Little pup, tell me, what is this all about?”
When Hua Yi received the news, his head became two times bigger.
Suo Laimu watched Hua Yi being like a donkey pulling a mill as he walked around the room several times without stopping, and he finally couldn’t help but say, “Oh come on now, aren’t you worrying too much?”
Hua Yi’s face was gloomy. “I feel that it’s gonna be difficult to turn this matter around2Hua Yi actually says “difficult to make good.” It sounds awkward in English, so I changed it. But what Suo Laimu says next is going to be directly related to this; hence, the footnote..”
Suo Laimu said exasperatingly slowly, “Why didn’t you think of doing good when you deceived the person? Now do you know what is meant by ‘good and evil will always be rewarded in the end’?”
Hua Yi stopped in his tracks and said to Suo Laimu, “I still know what retribution in one’s lifetime is, so if you want to walk out of my house upright, you’d better say something human for me to listen to.”
Suo Laimu calmly took out several turtle shells from his sleeves and scattered them on the table. “Come, today I’ll humbly deign to personally give you a divination and ask the gods.”
Hua Yi: “Ask what?”
Suo Laimu stared at him and said, “What do you want to ask? I allow you to ask if you two are fated to be married…”
Before he could finish speaking, Hua Yi had swept him out of the door and heavily threw him out of the tent, along with all those turtle shells. Hua Yi said to him gravely, “I beg you, don’t make any trouble. Take those damned tortoise3Hua Yi is making a pun here that I can’t quite translate, which is 王八壳. When SLM said turtle before, he’s using the neutral character 龟. But when Hua Yi says “turtle,” he’s using 王八 (literally “king eight,” and pronounced as wáng bā), which, aside from meaning turtle/tortoise, is also slang for a cuckold or a pimp. I decided to use the word “tortoise” just to show the difference between the two characters, but it can really also mean turtle. In Ancient China, people believed that male turtles couldn’t have children, and that female turtles had to mate with snakes. shells with you and get lost!”
Suo Laimu awkwardly rose from the ground, held onto his top hat, and said indignantly, “You hatched out from a shell with a tortoise’s4SLM is also using 王八 here. There’s a slang in Chinese that is 王八蛋 (literally, turtle/tortoise egg), which basically means “son of an unfaithful/slutty woman”—since turtle eggs can only supposedly be born from a female turtle and a snake. So yeah, SLM is calling Hua Yi a bastard/son of a bitch haha patterns on it! You…”
His voice came to an abrupt stop as he saw a group of people approaching.
This group of people was simply a spectacle. Bei Shi was dragging Chang An with large strides as if he were in his own backyard, completely not regarding himself as an outsider. And Shan Xi and the others were escorting a group of merchants who were huddled together with fear and trepidation. Ineffably, they suddenly had the illusion that they were visitors to someone else’s tribe.
Hua Yi rubbed his face twice, trying to rub a welcoming look on it, and when he looked up, he saw Chang An trying to block Bei Shi at the door and not letting him in. He was even afraid that he’d make trouble, saying, “Shifu, that’s enough. Don’t make things difficult for him.”
… Hua Yi suspected that this guy specifically came to fan the flames.
Bei Shi’s face really lived up to expectations, immediately turning darker. His gaze glided over Hua Yi’s body and finally landed on the little domino flashily hung over his clothes. He stared at it as if he wanted to bore a hole through the old, ratty domino, and gnashing his teeth, he said, “The Chief is a fine-looking man ah.”
The fine-looking Chief Hua Yi hurriedly said in a low voice that he dared not consider himself as such.
Bei Shi snorted coldly. Raising his hand, he picked up Chang An by the collar and threw him away like a chick. He boldly and sharply said to Hua Yi, “Come, Chief, invite me in. Let’s have a chat.”
Chang An staggered twice before standing firmly. He also wanted to follow them in, but Bei Shi harshly gave him a look. “You stand there and don’t move. You busybody!”
Chang An’s feet instinctively lurched, and the door and the thick curtain closed right in front of him.
He wasn’t sure whether he should kick open the door and barge in or something when Hai Lan, who had been like a clam without a mouth, finally spoke. He stood at the door like a door god, blocking the way, and swept a look over Chang An. When he opened his golden mouth5金口 – originally referred to the words of the emperor, but later also referred to irrevocable and authoritative words to speak, he really was like a wooden club. “Just wait, okay? Do you know what it means to be pressed by air on both sides6夹板气 – to be criticized by both sides?”
Chang An was caught off guard when he spoke, and taken aback, he looked at him blankly.
There seemed to be a smile on Hai Lan’s diamond-like face, but unfortunately, like his words, it was like a night-blooming cactus that was soon dead without a trace.
At this time, Suo Laimu, who’d been silent on the side for a long time, looked at Hai Lan, sighed, and approached him.
He had a bit of a complicated look on his face. He dawdled for a long time before finally walking up to Hai Lan, but even then, he didn’t look up, just looking down on his toes.
It was a long time before Suo Laimu said softly, “Er-shu7二叔 – Second uncle. The “uncle” here specifically refers to one’s father’s younger brother..”
Hai Lan: “En.”
Then the two of them somehow remained silent, seemingly sitting in meditation, as they looked at each other in consternation.
Only Chang An didn’t notice this undercurrent surging up. He was fidgeting as if there were fleas on his body. He repeatedly tried to listen to the movement inside, but unfortunately, the door was tightly blocked by Hai Lan. He circled around the place several times, but he couldn’t find any gaps.
When he thought of those two people inside, he miraculously understood what the “pressed by air on both sides” that Hai Lan mentioned meant.
After about an hour, Bei Shi came out of the house. It was unknown what he said to Hua Yi, but when he came out, his face was still bad. He also inexplicably stared coldly at Chang An, and pointing at the tip of his nose, he said, “Hopeless!”
His kung fu hadn’t declined for a single day, so Chang An didn’t know how he was hopeless. But since Bei Shi was happy to say so, then just let him say it. He had no temper either way, so after hearing this, he just nodded readily.
Bei Shi gave him a look of hating iron for not becoming steel. Grabbing his arm, he headed out. “In the next few days, I will stay at your place.”
Chang An stumbled while being dragged by him, and he couldn’t help asking, “Shifu, why did you come here?”
Bei Shi said, “I came for those wild dogs in the Black Wind Puya clan.”
Chang An wondered, “You also have some enmity with them?”
Hearing this, Bei Shi was stunned, and he asked back, “Do you know what Black Wind Puya is?”
Chang An nodded. “It’s a ghost tribe.”
Bei Shi was silent for a moment, but then soon understood—The person who raised Chang An probably didn’t say a word about the Azure Dragon tribe to him8If you remember, it was implied in Chapter 1 that Black Wind Puya destroyed the Azure Dragon (aka Qinglong) tribe.. Anyway, Bei Shi didn’t intend to betray the painstaking efforts of one who was already dead, so he also skated around the topic and said vaguely, “En. A ghost tribe is never a good thing. In my adolescent years, I had many enemies. One more is not unusual for me—Stop talking nonsense. It’s cold, hurry up and walk.”
Suo Laimu slowly put his hands back into his sleeves and said to Hua Yi, who had stood beside him at some point, “How lucky. It really can’t be helped.”
Hua Yi raised his eyelids somewhat spiritlessly. “Who?”
“Chang An.” Suo Laimu sighed.
Hua Yi was too lazy to summon up energy. All he could think about was that it was better to guard the city walls in the middle of the night than to go back and sleep alone on a cold bed. Hearing Suo Laimu’s words, he snickered, “Why can’t I see where he is so lucky?”
Suo Laimu shook his head and said, “Since he was born, those who were good to him were purely good to him, and those who were bad to him were purely malicious. Therefore, no one has ever had ulterior motives against him, and no one has ever cheated him. He never had to be defensive, and as a result, he is open and honest. Is this not because his luck is good?”
With that, he turned his head, and with burning eyes, said to Hua Yi, “It’s been a few days. I figure Black Wind Puya is more or less getting anxious. Nowadays, it’s been bitterly cold. They don’t know if they’ll have enough food to last until next spring. If they’re unable to do anything, then they probably can’t sit still anymore.”
Hua Yi stared at him. “How do you know?”
Suo Laimu stretched out a finger, and the intricate sash on his cuffs was gently lifted by the wind. He closed his eyes, and after a long time, murmured, “Listen. The direction of the wind has changed.”