Zhou Jiayu woke up to utter darkness; the very moment he opened his eyes, all he could see was pitch blackness. He twisted his body around and discovered that his hands and feet were bound; he couldn’t move at all. His cheek rested on the ground, and he smelled a faint scent of blood lingering in the air. Wasn't he dead? …Where was this place? Could it be that he really went to the underworld? Zhou Jiayu's mind was in turmoil; however, it didn't take him long to find the answers to his questions, because the darkness before his eyes was soon dispelled by a bright light.
"Is it him?" A man's voice sounded.
"It's him," answered the other.
Zhou Jiayu heard this and was about to ask questions when he saw that two people were heading straight towards him. They stood near his head, then aggressively grabbed both of his arms and hauled him directly out of the room like a sack.
Perhaps it was because he stayed in the dark for quite a long time, but after he was pulled outside, Zhou Jiayu momentarily couldn't withstand the glare of the sun. He squeezed his eyes shut as he felt himself being dragged through a long corridor before being thrown to the center of a spacious hall.
"Master." The same voice as before sounded again. But, this time, he seemed to be talking to a different person. "We brought the man."
Zhou Jiayu's eyes finally adjusted to the surrounding light. He raised his head to see a man sitting in front of him.
The man had a very beautiful face; his lips were thin and his nose, tall and narrow. His alluring phoenix eyes were slightly closed, and he appeared to be resting. His skin was unlike those of ordinary people. It was unusually white, like a transparent jade, leaving people amazed at this breathtaking sight, but also making them feel as if he didn’t have personality, as if he lacked something human.
"Zhou Jiayu?" The man opened his mouth. His tone was very cool, his voice, devoid of emotions. The way he called on Zhou Jiayu was as if he were speaking to a dead object.
"Ke! Ke!" Zhou Jiayu's throat was a bit sore. After a few coughs, he blankly wondered, "Who are you?"
The man didn't reply. He simply pointed to the corner of the hall with his finger and said with a voice as cold as ice, "What is that?"
Startled, Zhou Jiayu swiveled around and looked behind him.
The hall was rather strange. It resembled a living room, but it was too big. There were seven large wooden pillars with a variety of designs engraved on them in this hall. Zhou Jiayu swept his eyes across the columns for a while, and he soon discovered there were all sorts of birds and animals located at the peak of the pillars. Although the man was asking about what was at the top of the columns, Zhou Jiayu began to assume he wanted him to identify the patterns. He fixed his eyes on the pillars and scrutinized them for a while. Immediately after, a penetrating chill abruptly ran down his spine.
He vaguely recognized several fine threads of fiber near the top of the pillars. It was actually a myriad of thin, white strands of silk, and there seemed to be something hanging from the white silk. Zhou Jiayu gaped in horror at this creepy scene, and he involuntarily shrank back. "T-That, what is that? A spider's web?"
"What else do you see?" The man proceeded to inquire.
Zhou Jiayu glanced at him a couple of times, then hesitated. "I-I-I couldn't see it clearly, but a glowing object seemed to be hanging beneath the spider web."
After a long moment of silence, the man softly rapped his fingers against the arm of the chair, then announced, "Bring him down."
Zhou Jiayu didn't have any time to react before he was dragged away once again.
However, the people who took him away were somewhat less forceful; they were, at least, willing to let him walk on his own.
Zhou Jiayu followed them through a lush garden, strolling for over ten minutes on the limestone walkway. They finally entered a small cabin.
"Stay put." One of them asserted impatiently. "If you run around and die, no one's going to collect your corpse."
Zhou Jiayu stared at them in a daze as they slammed the door shut and left. He felt as if he was in a dream—didn't a large truck crash into him just moments ago? How could he be here?
This inexplicable matter that was bugging him was solved when Zhou Jiayu incidentally caught sight of his own reflection in the mirror. A completely unfamiliar face stared back at him. His appearance was handsome. When he smiled, a charming dimple appeared on the right corner of his mouth, and with his lovely peach eyes, he was the exact definition of one who was very popular with the girls.
Zhou Jiayu: "The fuck—who is this?!"
He gripped the mirror in his hands. The person in the mirror was just as petrified as he was, he wore the same foolish expression as he did.
Zhou Jiayu was just an ordinary office worker, and he was even a staunch atheist at that. Everything that happened just now was way beyond his understanding.
However, Zhou Jiayu didn't think much of it; yet, as a matter of fact, this was only the beginning. While he was clutching the mirror, pondering over the values of his life and the views of the world, a gentle, timid voice appeared in his mind. "Hello, how are you?"
Zhou Jiayu was shocked after hearing this voice. He thought he went insane! Or perhaps he had a split personality?
The timid voice continued, "Hello, Zhou Jiayu. You can call me Ji Ba1
Zhou Jiayu: "…a good name." Saying one thing, but meaning another; culture can just go to hell2
The timid voice: "…"
The atmosphere instantly became tense. Just when Zhou Jiayu ruminated on whether his alter ego could figure out what he was thinking, a faint image formed in his mind—it was a little bird perched atop a turtle shell. The bird's feathers were as sleek as midnight, and it carried itself on three feet. At this moment, its black beady, round eyes gazed attentively at Zhou Jiayu.
Zhou Jiayu didn't relax one bit.
He began to doubt whether he was actually dead, whether these were just mere hallucinations he saw before his death.
The small bird, who claimed to be Ji Ba, opened its beak and chirped, "Hello, I can explain everything to you."
Zhou Jiayu remained silent.
Ji Ba clearly perceived Zhou Jiayu's suspicions. It no longer spoke and heavily fanned its wings instead.
The view before Zhou Jiayu's eyes gradually turned black, and countless scenes surfaced in his mind. The chaotic images added to his confusion. Upon closer examination, he finally had a rough understanding of what happened to him.
Zhou Jiayu died once, but he then woke up inside another person's body, one who shared the same given name and the same surname as him. It was just a pity that after his rebirth, he was no longer a civil servant who worked from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M.. On the contrary, he became a crook who had nearly been beaten to death.
The person who captured him was Lin Zhushui, a big-shot in the feng shui circles. This charlatan had failed to deceive others by using spirits, which was a great taboo in this line of business, but he never knew that he'd be dragged away immediately and dumped into concrete. However, Lin Zhushui eventually spared his life.
After Zhou Jiayu finished watching this scene, he felt that his three views had been shattered. Completely motionless, he sat on the wooden bed, then faintly whispered, "Why'd you save me?"
Ji Ba replied, "It wasn't to save you. It was to save Lin Zhushui." As the bird spoke, it used its sharp beak to peck at the white fluff on its chest.
Zhou Jiayu was crystal clear on what the small bird was suggesting, and he asked, "What about you, what are you?"
Ji Ba shifted around, leaned forward, and twisted its body, exposing its three legs. It then motioned for Zhou Jiayu to have a look.
Immediately after seeing this, Zhou Jiayu sucked in a cool, startled breath. "To think the rumors of KFC's mutant chickens3
Ji Ba: "…" A small flame began to spark at its side.
Zhou Jiayu seemed to have realized that Ji Ba was getting angry, so he quickly modified his previous remark. "I'm just kidding. I know that three-legged birds are extremely special. They're called three-legged crows, right?" The three-legged crow, also known as the Golden Crow, was a mythological creature. According to the legends, Houyi shot down nine of the ten suns, and the remaining one came to exist as the three-legged crow4
Ji Ba hummed and softly chirped, "I want to save Lin Zhushui. You have to help me."
Zhou Jiayu responded, "How can I help?"
Ji Ba answered, "I don't know yet, I have to figure things out slowly, but I was the one who brought you back to life. The original charlatan has already reincarnated."
Zhou Jiayu thought to himself, "Is it that bad for me to occupy someone else's body like this?"
Ji Ba replied grimly, "You don't know what he's done."
It was with the memories Ji Ba imparted on him that Zhou Jiayu soon learned of all the deeds the original body had done. After replaying the memories in his mind, Zhou Jiayu reckoned that a tragedy was inevitable should the man be sent to the police station; he'd certainly be given either a deferred death sentence or an immediate execution by the firing squad. Other swindlers tend to cheat people of their money, but this man actually almost slaughtered many children in the name of feng shui. Fortunately, Lin Zhushui and his people arrived in the nick of time. Yet, even so, all the horrendous things the man previously did made anyone grind their teeth in pure hatred.
After listening to Ji Ba, Zhou Jiayu combed through his thoughts. He himself was saved so he naturally had to return the favor and help the little bird save Lin Zhushui—but as to how he should save Lin Zhushui…the bird's explanation was somewhat ambiguous. Although Zhou Jiayu understood the general situation, he was still filled with doubts. He wanted to contact the outside world to prove that this bird wasn't just an illusion, but it seemed that he had no chance to do so now, and so he stated, "I pretty much got it."
The room he was confined in was very plain. There was only one bed, one table, and one wooden stool. There was nothing else. The door was locked, and the windows were sealed with thick bars. This obviously wasn't a guest's room.
Zhou Jiayu was previously beat up so his entire body was sore; if not all, he also received a large amount of information, so his body quickly fell exhausted.
Still feeling suspicious, he reclined on the hard bed and closed his eyes, soon succumbing to sleep.
The next day, Zhou Jiayu was rudely awakened by someone.
It was the same man who dragged him to the hall yesterday. The man appeared to be very young, much younger than Zhou Jiayu.
He impatiently kicked Zhou Jiayu's bed and ordered, "Get up."
Bewildered, Zhou Jiayu sat up then lifted his hands to rub his eyes. "Good morning."
The man ignored Zhou Jiayu; his attitude was also rather unpleasant. If it was before, Zhou Jiayu might've lamented about receiving this sort of treatment; however, last night, Ji Ba revealed to him what the original body did, so he felt that he somewhat deserved it…
"Move." The man said before disappearing out the door.
Zhou Jiayu cautiously followed after him. Dull pain shot up his swollen ankle; he probably received this injury from being pummeled by the others.
The garden was enormous; the entire place was surrounded by all sorts of fresh plants and lush greenery. One could even hear the slight murmurs of the flowing water from a distance. The area was incomparably stunning. It's just that wherever one turned, one would see the same thing. If a man who wasn’t familiar with the place took a walk here, he was bound to lose his way.
Zhou Jiayu walked behind the person for a good ten minutes. It wasn't long before a majestic wooden house with three stories finally came into Zhou Jiayu's view.
The building was rather quaint and simple, and a fence surrounded the small building. Before having stepped inside, Zhou Jiayu caught a whiff sandalwood. The scent wasn't strong, but it surprisingly had a lasting impression on people. Zhou Jiayu followed the man into the house. When he entered the dining room, he spotted two individuals sitting at the table and eating breakfast.
"You'll be living with us in the future," declared the person who led Zhou Jiayu to this place. Though this was supposed to be something of an introduction, his attitude was more than poor and unfriendly. He looked at Zhou Jiayu with eyes that only held revulsion. There were no words needed; it was evident that if someone hadn't instructed him to do so, he wouldn't speak to Zhou Jiayu at all.
"Well, thank you." Zhou Jiayu courteously thanked.
There were chopsticks and a bowl placed at the edge of the table, a bit far from the center. Zhou Jiayu regarded this scene and confirmed that it was, indeed, for him. He quietly took a seat, gnawed on a steamed bun, and drank the bowl of congee.
"The room on the far right side of the third floor is yours." Once the meal was over, the man who brought Zhou Jiayu here tossed a key in his direction. "Anyway, don't run around."
"Thank you." Zhou Jiayu said.
After dinner, the people dispersed, leaving to go elsewhere. Zhou Jiayu was the last one to leave from the table. He stared at the bowls and chopsticks that were scattered around the table and hesitated for a minute. After gathering his thoughts, he finally took the dishes to the kitchen to wash.
As of this moment, this quaint wooden house was deathly silent. If Zhou Jiayu hadn't seen several of his housemates go upstairs, it's likely he would've suspected that he was the only person residing in this house.
Once Zhou Jiayu cleaned the dishes, he picked up the key the man gave to him and headed to the third floor.
The room that was assigned to him was very simple, but it was much better than the previous cabin. At least there was a window here; and right beside the window was an emerald-green hanging orchid. There was a single bed, as well as a table and chair next to it. There was also a wardrobe on the opposite side of the room. Zhou Jiayu opened the closet and peered inside only to find several clothes organized within the wardrobe. They seemed to have been prepared specifically for him.
The prisoner's treatment is pretty good… Zhou Jiayu thought to himself, entirely pleased.
But this thought only lasted until lunch time.
Zhou Jiayu glanced at the clock. It was almost time. He went downstairs to offer some help, but when he arrived at the first floor, he stumbled upon a gathering of three lifeless, forlorn individuals slouching on the sofa; every one of their faces carried the look of a man who was rejected by a deep, unrequited love.
The man who brought Zhou Jiayu over was unable to remain patient, and he lost his cool. "Who's going to cook today?"
Another man inserted, "Well, I cooked yesterday."
The third man didn't speak at all. Eventually, he couldn't bear being the target of the others' intense stares, so he resentfully put down his phone and bitterly stated, "I'd actually love to cook, but would you guys actually be willing to eat?"
The three individuals fell silent; they didn't utter a single word.
Zhou Jiayu, the newly-arrived criminal, didn't dare voice his opinions. He could only sit patiently on the edge of the couch and pretend to be a block of wood.
At last, the man who brought Zhou Jiayu here rose to his feet. With deep hatred coloring his face, he stomped towards the kitchen. Another person shouted, "Chen Yiqiong, don't cook any noodles, ah! Those goddamn noodles make me want to vomit every time I see them—!"
Infuriated, Chen Yiqiong roared, "Chen Erbai, don't give me that bullshit! You better watch yourself!"
Zhou Jiayu was sitting down as quiet as a chicken. He'd originally thought they wouldn't notice him, but who would've imagined that Chen Yiqiong would turn his head and angrily stare at Zhou Jiayu. "Hey, what the hell are you smirking at?"
Zhou Jiayu felt rather wronged. "I didn't smirk."
Chen Yiqiong stood his ground. "You obviously smirked! The corner of your eyes are still curved!"
Zhou Jiayu desperately defended himself. "I was born like this." This body was naturally born with lovely, smiling peach eyes, you couldn’t possibly blame him for this.
Chen Yiqiong didn’t back down. "It doesn't matter. You were still smiling. Since you smiled, you go and cook a meal—"
Zhou Jiayu: "…"
Chen Erbai listened in on the two and couldn't approve of this. "You're seriously letting him do it? Aren't you afraid he'd poison us? Okay, let's say he doesn't poison us, he might still spit, and then what?"
At the side, Zhou Jiayu vigorously nodded his head in agreement, silently thanking Chen Erbai for his quick thinking.
Chen Yiqiong waved it off. "Don't worry, I'll be right next to him, watching him every second. Can you cook?"
Zhou Jiayu heaved a sigh, reluctantly stood up, and replied, "A little bit." Once he started working, he began to live independently. As a result of this, and because of his love for food, his cooking skills were exceptionally good. His only concern was that the meal he made wouldn't suit the three's tastes and that they would deliberately make things difficult for him. After all, the expression in all of their eyes as they glared at him was far from hospitable.
"Then go on. I'll be watching you." Chen Yiqiong darkly added, "You know exactly the kind of situation you're in right now. If I ever catch you wanting to even do something…"
Zhou Jiayu: "…Alright."
Thus, Zhou Jiayu was forced to go to the kitchen by Chen Yiqiong. He first took a look at the ingredients in the refrigerator, then asked Chen Yiqiong if he had anything specific he wanted to eat.
Chen Yiqiong answered, "Just as long as it isn't noodles. And it'd be nice if it has a bit of meat."
Soon after, Zhou Jiayu took out two slabs of fresh meat and steamed the rice. There weren't many ingredients here, but making a few homemade dishes wasn't going to be a big problem. He thinly sliced the meat, coated it in starch, and stir fried it with green peppers. He also picked some large Chinese cabbages and created a simple stir-fry dish. Finally, he cooked some tomato egg drop soup.
While Zhou Jiayu was cooking, Chen Yiqiong anxiously stood beside him, eagerly watching his every move. His sparkling eyes resembled those of a young elementary school student who desperately wished to read a new book. This fervent longing gave Zhou Jiayu the illusion that the man had not eaten for several days.
Zhou Jiayu cooked the green pepper and shredded meat, and then took some out of the pot. Feeling somewhat awkward, he asked, "Do you want to try some?"
Chen Yiqiong: "Yes! Want!"
After he finished saying this, he took up his chopsticks and picked a large piece for himself. The moment he stuffed it into his mouth, hot tears poured out of his eyes, and he wouldn't stop bobbing his head up and down. He remarked, "You really know how to cook, huh?"
Zhou Jiayu hummed, "I usually cook at home when I get off work."
After hearing this, Chen Yiqiong suspiciously questioned, "You're a crook, yet you have a job?"
Zhou Jiayu: "…I meant this and that, you know, on my own free time." Whoops, he almost forgot he was a charlatan who didn't have to go to work.
Half an hour later, the food was served on the table. The three dishes and the bowl of soup Zhou Jiayu made should suffice; this should be more than enough for four people.
The three individuals had no manners or etiquette whatsoever. They immediately dived for their chopsticks and began inhaling their rice. They were the exact picture of some uncultured tribesmen who were starving for years. Zhou Jiayu could only gape at this scene that stunned him speechless.
Before one knew it, the food vanished; not even a drop of soup was left. Everything was devoured by Chen Yiqiong.
Zhou Jiayu was a bit frightened; he didn't know how to move his chopsticks. He only ate for a full five minutes. After seeing the three men had collapsed on the table, utterly pleased with the meal they just dug into, he was ready to stand up and clean the dishes, but Chen Yiqiong immediately called on him to stop.
Chen Yiqiong began, "I'm Chen Yiqiong. He is Chen Erbai. And this person is Chen Zhaosan."
Zhou Jiayu bowed. "My name's Zhou Jiayu…"
"I know what your name is." Chen Yiqiong interrupted. "Anyways, you'll be living here from now on, so the meals will be taken care of by you."
What else could Zhou Jiayu say to this? He merely nodded his head in understanding and said that it sounded fine.
"There's a study room on the left side of the third floor. You can go inside and check it out whenever you'd like; however, the books inside cannot be taken out." After eating a satisfying meal, Chen Yiqiong's attitude was much nicer than before. Although he still wasn't enthusiastic, at least he was slightly more willing to speak and give Zhou Jiayu some information.
Zhou Jiayu listened carefully.
Chen Yiqiong lastly said, "You go up and get some rest. I'll wash the dishes."
Zhou Jiayu hesitated for a moment then accepted. He didn't feel as if he started living here since last night, and he thought it wasn't such a bad idea to assign responsibilities to each other.
They had a short break after lunch. Zhou Jiayu took an afternoon nap then climbed out of bed and headed towards the study room to the left at the end of the corridor.
The study room was quite spacious. The contents of the books contained inside this room left Zhou Jiayu confused and disoriented. He’d heard of Tui Bei Tu as well as the Classic of Changes5
and some others at the very least; however, there were several books that he'd never seen nor heard of before. The contents were beyond unfathomable and controversial, and they caused Zhou Jiayu to doubt his entire life.
Luckily, the three-legged crow named Ji Ba came in handy at this moment. Once again, it appeared in Zhou Jiayu's mind and began teaching him some relatively fundamental knowledge, such as liu yao, eight symbols, as well as compass and composition.6
Zhou Jiayu couldn't process any of this information; it only left him muddleheaded.
There was no way that Ji Ba could help him like this, so it simply offered him a new explanation. "Feng shui isn't all that mysterious nor is it unable to be explained. For instance, it's considered bad feng shui to build a house facing a cross junction, as the destructive energy7
would bring bad luck and possibly harm as well; that is to say, it will negatively affect the people residing there. This is the concept of feng shui. In fact, with all that noise pollution from the vehicles crossing through the intersection and that air pollution from the car exhausts, it is completely normal for any residential building to be negatively affected."
Zhao Jiayu: "And so…?"
Ji Ba: "And so, the concept of feng shui isn't at all mysterious. Most of it can be rationalized by science, but only a small portion may not be able to be fully explicated by science just yet."
Zhou Jiayu suddenly became intrigued, and he wondered, "I understand most of what you said. But what's the small portion that can't be explained by science?" He then recalled those hanging strands of silk he saw in the hall and asked, "What were those silk threads I saw before?"
Jiba answered, "Those were auspicious symbols for materializing energy. It's slightly more complicated so you certainly wouldn't be able to understand it right now.
Zhou Jiayu reflected on it for a long while then mused, "Then what about my rebirth? Does this have anything to do with feng shui?"
"It has absolutely nothing to do with it. Let me just tell you this right now. Both your and Lin Zhushui's lives are connected to each other. If he dies, then you also won't live." Sensing Zhou Jiayu's inner-doubts concerning his inexplicable rebirth, Ji Ba decided to speak frankly.
Zhou Jiayu questioned, "So what do I need to do in the end?"
Ruffling its fluffy feathers, Ji Ba stated, "Your role in this isn't clear just yet. You just have to learn for now. It's definitely an advantage if you gain more knowledge."
Ji Ba taught Zhou Jiayu all afternoon in the study room. Although his progress wasn't overly outstanding, at least he was starting to gain a foundation.
Dinner was also made by Zhou Jiayu. When he noticed there wasn't much food in the fridge, he decided to come clean.
Who could've known that the three people in this house loathed noodles with a passion. Chen Yiqiong claimed that he already had enough of noodles and that he'd even throw up at the very sight of noodles. Zhou Jiayu was feeling helpless. "But there's not much food in the fridge. You know what, fine. I'll cook some for myself to eat, and I'll make you guys some fried rice."
Chen Yiqiong agreed.
The result was that once dinner was made, the three people who held the fried rice in their hands stared longingly at Zhou Jiayu's bowl of noodles. Its appearance was undeniably tantalizing. The noodles were crystal clear, soaking in a pale, reflective broth, garnished with some fresh green onions and other mouth-watering vegetables, and topped with a dazzling, golden poached egg.
Zhou Jiayu took one bite, then put his chopsticks down. "You…would you guys like to try some?"
Chen Yiqiong didn't say a word. He straight-away extended his chopsticks and tried a bit. After a taste, he looked down at his own bowl of fried rice. "I want to eat noodles tomorrow."
Zhou Jiayu: "…"
The other two weren't as thick-skinned or shameless, so they endured said no.
The three people, who had clearly disdained noodles just minutes ago, now couldn't stop themselves from eyeballing Zhou Jiayu's bowl of noodles every second. Zhou Jiayu's first dinner here was quite an uncomfortable experience. With great difficulty, he finally managed to finish eating, and then he sighed in relief.
Zhou Jiayu's first day of living at this house went fairly well; at least he now knew the names of some his housemates. He returned to his room at night to take a hot bath.
He didn’t pay much attention to it before, but once Zhou Jiayu stripped off all of his clothing, he discovered that his entire body was covered in black and blue bruises. This body's skin was originally a bright white, so such a scene looked even more tragic. But it was not healthy to brood over whatever the others did before; besides, it wasn’t as if his being beaten up was excessively unreasonable… Zhou Jiayu comforted himself, smiling wryly.
It was currently early summer, and the temperature was particularly scorching.
Zhou Jiayu picked out a light, refreshing T-shirt to wear after he took a bath. He then sat on the edge of the bed, relaxing in the cool breeze.
The sky outside grew darker; shadows soon enveloped the verdant forests outside. The vast greenery was covered in a variety of plants, tall cypress trees and some smaller bushes; there were even some towering, straight moso bamboo near the path.
Zhou Jiayu was enjoying the breeze when he suddenly caught sight of a figure from far away, approaching one side of the building. He scrutinized the hazy figure and realized the person was actually the man he'd previously encountered in the hall, Lin Zhushui.
Lin Zhushui wore a light-colored, long-sleeved traditional Chinese garment8
, with his collar buttoned to the very top. His temperament was as cold as ice. His eyes remained closed and he freely walked on the curved limestone walkway without difficulty; his footsteps weren't at all slow. If Zhou Jiayu hadn't seen it with his very own eyes, he probably would've never believed the other was blind.
As Lin Zhushui neared the building, Zhou Jiayu stretched out his arm and rubbed his eyes. He suspected he was hallucinating for a moment. He could've sworn he saw Lin Zhushui's body being surrounded by a light fog; that translucent fog swirled all around him, similarly to how clouds gathered in the skies before a storm.
"What's that black mist?" Zhou Jiayu asked Ji Ba.
"It's life." Ji Ba answered.
"Life?" Zhou Jiayu repeated.
"Yes, it's Lin Zhushui's life." Ji Ba confirmed.
Zhou Jiayu wanted to continue asking questions, but Lin Zhushui, who was calmly walking along the path, suddenly turned his head and looked straight at Zhou Jiayu's direction. Zhou Jiayu's heart violently jumped out of his chest just like a fish. He instinctively slipped out of his wooden chair and crouched down on the floor. He then squatted there for a while. It took him a long moment to react, but once he was able to, he didn't know whether he should laugh or cry. "Why am I so scared of this…in any case, he can't even see me." But he nevertheless waited, then slowly leaned forward, eventually returning to the window.
By then, Lin Zhushui had vanished, and tranquility was restored in the garden once again.
Judging from Lin Zhushui's direction, he should be headed for this small house. However, Zhou Jiayu didn't detect any movements, so he didn't know where he went in the end.
His imagination started running wild. The summer's chirping of cicadas accompanied the rustling of leaves, and at last, Zhou Jiayu fell asleep.
On the second day, Zhou Jiayu confirmed that Lin Zhushui had been here yesterday, only because the three people in the building were now down to two. From what Chen Yiqiong said, it seemed that Lin Zhushui sent Chen Zhaosan out to run an errand.
"I want to go outside, too." Chen Yiqiong complained to Chen Erbai all noon. "Every single day we hole ourselves in this house and eat nothing but noodles…"
Chen Erbai glanced down at his phone and completely ignored Chen Yiqiong.
Zhou Jiayu didn't dare join the conversation; instead, he prepared to cook lunch.
Some fresh meat was delivered to the house this morning. Zhou Jiayu took a quick look at the pork chops then picked them up, deciding to cook up some spare ribs with fermented bean paste. He also sautéed some asparagus along with some shelled shrimp and steamed some eggs as well.
Even today, Chen Yiqiong didn't seem at ease with Zhou Jiayu; he carried a wooden stool to the kitchen to keep an eye on him.
Zhou Jiayu couldn't understand why Chen Yiqiong was so worried about him spitting in the dishes. Later, he learned that Chen Yiqiong was the one who ruthlessly pummeled him while he was tied up like a sack. In fact, he was also the one responsible for his swollen ankle… …After they reconciled and built up a good relationship, Chen Yiqiong apologized to him, saying that he shouldn't have kicked him so hard at the time. Of course, Zhou Jiayu gently smiled in return and said that it didn't matter: "Besides, I also got back at you by spitting a lot in the food I cooked for you."
Chen Yiqiong: "…"
Nonetheless, that was in the future. As of this moment, the relationship between the two wasn't nearly as close to good. As a result, Chen Yiqiong, who liked to eat but couldn't cook for his life, had no choice but to stand beside Zhou Jiayu and silently watch him prepare the meals.
Zhou Jiayu removed his apron and held three bowls of rice. He sat down and was just about to dig in with his chopsticks, when he noticed the two people sitting directly across from him suddenly sit upright, transforming from starving and uncouth ghosts to peerlessly elegant and sophisticated young masters.
Just when Zhou Jiayu was wondering whether the two people had gone mad, he heard a familiar voice behind him. "Eating?"
"Yes, we are about to eat, Master. Would you like to eat with us?" Chen Yiqiong's attitude pretty much resembled a servant kissing up to his lord.
"Who made it?" Lin Zhushui inquired.
"I-It was made by Zhou Jiayu." Chen Yiqiong appeared to be just a tad ashamed. He continued, "It was only because we saw that he was idle, and he also had some free time so…we let him cook…"
After hearing this, Lin Zhushui didn't commend him; however, he also he didn't denounce him. To everyone's surprise, he found a place to sit down and casually declared, "I suppose I should give it a taste then."
Chen Yiqiong seemed to feel a bit intimidated. Before, they had also invited Lin Zhushui to eat, but Lin Zhushui refused every time. Then again, it didn't seem like a good idea to let their master try whatever they made…
Zhou Jiayu obediently lowered his head and quietly focused on eating his own meal.
The vegetables and meat here appeared rather special; they were undoubtedly of a higher quality than the ones found outside. The fresh shrimp sautéed with the crisp asparagus gave rise to a sweet yet savory flavor, a flavor beyond one's expectations. The marinated spare ribs weren't tough or dry; they were juicy and tender, melting in one's mouth, undeniably succulent.
Because Lin Zhushui was here, both Chen Yiqiong and Chen Erbai dined properly; their table manners were impeccable. Zhou Jiayu, who had seen they way they ate just yesterday, could hardly believe his eyes. He refused to accept that these two people before him were the same ones he saw yesterday.
Lin Zhushui's aura was extraordinarily powerful. He sat on the opposite side, diagonal to Zhou Jiayu. Zhou Jiayu bowed his head as he ate and occasionally sneaked a few peeks at him. For the first time, he was able to clearly observe Lin Zhushui at a closer range.
Naturally, there were some people who only looked attractive at a farther distance, but Lin Zhushui obviously wasn’t the type whose beauty was affected by certain distances. His hand that held the chopsticks was exceptionally graceful, his bones, defined, and his fingers, slender and pure white. Even carrying that dish didn't degrade his elegance.
Zhou Jiayu initially thought that Lin Zhushui was very pale, but after a closer look, he discovered that his skin could, indeed, be described in a few words: immaculately flawless and perfect. It was like an unblemished jade, making a person desire to touch it with their hands, touch it as see whether this jade felt as ice-cold as it looked—of course, Zhou Jiayu only dared think this in his mind.
They ate the meal in complete silence; not even the sound of chewing could be heard at the table.
Lin Zhushui's appearance was undoubtedly stunning, but it was his appetite that left Zhou Jiayu particularly stunned. He'd originally intended to eat the leftovers from noon during the evening, but the three individuals wordlessly devoured all the dishes in the end, leaving behind only a bit of soup…
After having eaten to his heart's content, Chen Yiqiong volunteered to wash the dishes, but before he could leave, Lin Zhushui stopped him. "Wait. There's something I've to inform you all of."
"What's the matter, Master?"
Lin Zhushui continued, "The 14th of next month. Do you know what day it is?"
Chen Yiqiong eagerly answered, "Know, Master. Who will be going this time?"
"I had originally wished for Musi to attend, but he has yet to finish his task, so it is unlikely that he will return any time soon." said Lin Zhushui.
Chen Yiqiong raised his voice. "Then can't I go instead?!"
Chen Erbai, who was sitting next to him, suddenly spoke up. "I also want to go!"
Zhou Jiayu listened to all of this with a blank expression on his face. He had only wanted to quietly retreat, but now, he felt that he would attract a bit too much unwanted attention if he abruptly stood up, and so he simply shrank into the corner and pretended to be one with the air.
Lin Zhushui didn't speak after hearing Chen Yiqiong and Chen Erbai recommend themselves. Instead, he promptly fished out an item that resembled a pocket-watch, placed it on the table, and stated, "Open it, and have a look."
Chen Yiqiong and Chen Erbai darted forward and, together, they opened the pocket watch; they soon discovered that this pocket watch was broken since long before. Lin Zhushui shut his eyes and took a seat nearby. He then pointed his finger at the table. "Whoever arrived first."
Chen Yiqiong studied the pocket watch carefully. He drew it closer to the tip of his nose and sniffed it like a dog. "A women. Passed away. There were also children…"
Chen Erbai added to it. "Ought to have died of illness, and also lived a bitter life filled with hardships."
Look at you two; one person says one thing, the other says another thing. Zhou Jiayu's brain turned to mush. Feeling restless, he eventually turned to Lin Zhushui. Zhou Jiayu also appeared to want to inquire about the final answer.
But how could one know that Lin Zhushui would remain impassive. His finger pointed to the table once again, and without a change in tone, he questioned, "What else is there?"
"Nothing else." Chen Yiqiong scratched his head, feeling somewhat embarrassed.
"So, a woman. One who died of illness and who also struggled throughout life. Is that it?" Lin Zhushui reaffirmed.
Both Chen Yiqiong and Chen Erbai nodded their heads yes.
Lin Zhushui heard what they had to say, then he turned his head and gazed straight at Zhou Jiayu's stupefied face. "You come over here and have a look."
As soon as they heard this sentence come from the man's lips, the trio froze, utterly flabbergasted. Zhou Jiayu was the most dumbfounded of the three, and he stupidly pointed to himself. "M-me?"
Lin Zhushui nodded.
祭八–Could say either Zhai ba or Ji ba. It most likely says Ji Ba because of the following phrase. Ji
= Sacrifice/Festive; Ba
I may be interpreting this incorrectly, but here goes. There's rhyming, idioms, play on words, etc. First: 说鸡
,文明去他妈 (Shuō jī
jiù shuō ba
, wénmíng qù tā mā) is the idiom, which has something to do with contradictions/hypocrisy/saying one thing but meaning another/acting opposite of what one says, depends on context really. This idiom uses the characters Ji and ba, except here, Ji
= chicken and ba
= expression of disgust. Anyway, the voice's name is also Ji Ba, except the name uses different characters, as mentioned in the previous footnote. And I'm assuming that since its name uses different characters (or the fact that its name also means ‘cock’ in different characters) there might be something up with that as well. But I could also be overthinking this. Both ways, this is completely lost in translation. If anyone has a better way to explain or translate this part, do share.3
Some disturbing internet hoax about how the fast food franchise, KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken), was supposedly breeding mutant chickens…4
Explanation of the legend: LINK5
Explanation of Tui Bei Tu: LINK
& Explanation of I Ching (AKA Classics of Changes): LINK 6
Liu Yao: six yaos / the arrangement of yin and yang / the movement of six hexagram lines that symbolize the Dao/way of the three ultimates. The rest has to do with divination and feng shui.7
(or you could just search for pictures online…)
The author had an author’s note in this chapter, which I’m too lazy to type out in its entirety, but basically, she said that this novel and her other novel,《为了和谐而奋斗》(Striving for Harmony), will have some similarities, but the plot will be roughly different.
And wow…this was rather long. Anyway, there will be a couple of mistakes and some additional changes that may take place; I'll go over it some other time. Until then, either bear with it or if you can’t, just comment on any errors.
Additionally, if the next chapter button links to EIC in the future, that just means that said next chapter isn’t out yet…and I don’t know how to fix that at the moment; it does seem to automatically fix itself once the next chapter is up…but well, just ignore the weird linking until I figure out what’s going on…
Zhou Jiayu swallowed his saliva hard then slowly walked over to the table.
The pocket watch that was placed on the table had scratches on its surface, and the glass was shattered. It looked as if someone had accidentally dropped it to the ground. The metal chain hanging from the item looked fairly new; presumably, the previous chain had been exchanged for this one.
Zhou Jiayu scrutinized the object, but he couldn't find anything. He was feeling rather distressed when, all of a sudden, Ji Ba popped into his mind and stomped on the tortoise shell it stood on. Zhou Jiayu thought he saw the shadows of a head gradually extend from the tortoise shell but, just then, countless fragmented images flashed before his eyes.
The visions appeared intermittently, progressively piecing together the entire life of an actor1
in the Republic of China. Zhou Jiayu was utterly dazzled. At last, the images faded, and all that was left behind was a still darkness. His body was drenched in layers of cold sweat, and his complexion had turned white.
Chen Yiqiong saw that Zhou Jiayu was just silently standing there; he reckoned the other didn't see anything. In his heart, he wondered why his master seemed care about this charlatan. But, of course, he only thought this in his mind; he absolutely didn't dare speak out in front of Lin Zhushui.
"What did you see?" Lin Zhushui's voice was as faint and indifferent as before, but it brought Zhou Jiayu, whose mind was floating elsewhere, back to his senses.
Trembling, Zhou Jiayu lifted his arm and wiped the sweat dripping off his face. He whispered lowly, "I saw a man."
Chen Yiqiong heard this at the side and immediately frowned, thinking, how could it possibly be a man? Both he and Chen Erbai sensed the yin energy2
of a woman.
The very foundation of feng shui was based on the concept of Yin and Yang; just like mankind, all things existed as inseparable and contradictory opposites, everything existed as yin and yang. In essence, yin represented female energy, whereas yang symbolized male energy; yin signified the north, whereas yang indicated the south. Even place names, such as Jiangyin and Luoyang, referred to geographical locations3.
If they couldn't even distinguish between yin and yang, then how could they possible learn feng shui properly?
Chen Erbai's dark expression mirrored Chen Yiqiong's expression. No questions asked, he strongly disagreed with Zhou Jiayu's statement. If it weren't for the fact that their master was present before them, he would've long been quarreling with Zhou Jiayu.
Lin Zhushui hadn't indicated whether the other was correct or incorrect. He seemed to have a clear grasp on the moods of those around him. He opened his mouth and bluntly asked, "Yiqiong, you don't agree?"
Chen Yiqiong hesitated before admitting, "Master, it was truly the yin energy of a woman that was attached to that pocket watch."
Lin Zhushui kept silent.
Chen Erbai also nodded and resolutely added, "Yes, and that yin energy was extremely heavy. That woman died of illness, and her resentment before death was very deep."
Lin Zhushui's face remained impassive. After hearing both Chen Yiqiong and Chen Erbai's answers, he frostily stated, "I have taught you both for five years, and this is all you've learned?"
Chen Yiqiong and Chen Erbai's expressions suddenly turned very ugly.
"Zhou Jiayu, speak." Lin Zhushui's voice was colder than ice, piercing.
Zhou Jiayu was a little frightened and intimidated by Lin Zhushui's reaction. He even felt a cold chill wash over him. And it didn't help that Chen Yiqiong and Chen Erbai glared at him with eyes that were filled with malice, eyes that said they wanted to eat Zhou Jiayu whole.
Zhou Jiayu: "…"
"Master told you to speak." Chen Yiqiong barely managed to spit out through his gnashed teeth. Originally, the tension between the two had slightly eased because of the delicious meals; however, now, their relationship returned to sub-zero.
Yes, it was a fact that he studied under Lin Zhushui for many years; and yet, somehow, he'd been forced into the corner by this random, more-than-dishonorable crook. Anybody would hold a grudge in their heart.
Zhou Jiayu unconditionally believed that if Lin Zhushui wasn't here right now, Chen Yiqiong and Chen Erbai would have immediately rushed at him and ripped him apart like a fresh piece of meat; no doubt they would've pummeled him to a pulp.
"It just feels like this pocket watch is a man's…" This was the only explanation Zhou Jiayu could offer. “He should be an actor, but I can only sense so much…" In truth, he had seen other visions from Ji Ba, but seeing as how the atmosphere was overbearingly grave, he hesitated for a moment then finally decided to stay silent.
"Yin energy isn't only exclusive to women." Lin Zhushui reached for the pocket watch; his voice was devoid of emotions, completely indifferent. "Are you even suited for this line of business?"
Chen Yiqiong and Chen Erbai didn't dare make a sound; they obediently listened to his teachings.
"The owner of this pocket watch is Ren Zixiu, one of the most famous theatre actors in the Republic of China." Lin Zhushui's fingers glided over the surface of the pocket watch. He continued, "He practiced female roles since he was a child, and he also preferred wearing women's clothes in his everyday life."
Both Chen Yiqiong and Chen Erbai choked. They were stunned by what they'd heard. They apparently hadn't foreseen this.
"This pocket watch does indeed contain yin energy, but from where exactly this yin energy came from is something I had allowed you all to explain. Yet, I suppose that even this was unable to be answered correctly." Lin Zhushui was merciless. "To wish to attend the lively gathering next month with this sort of appearance, perhaps you aren't afraid of losing my, Lin Zhushui's, face."
Once he finished, he swiftly put the pocket watch away and turned on his heels.
Chen Yiqiong and Chen Erbai were left behind with their heads hanging dispiritedly.
After witnessing this scene, Zhou Jiayu quietly turned around, preparing to leave as well.
But, in the end, he didn't even take one step upstairs before he was harshly pulled back by Chen Yiqiong.
"Friend, where are you going?" Chen Yiqiong chuckled darkly. "Don't you want to have a small chat with us?"
Zhou Jiayu: "…" Could you stop baring your teeth? You're a bit too close, and I feel like you're going to bite me.
Zhou Jiayu, who hadn't managed to successfully escape, was dragged back to the living room and thrown onto the sofa.
The two people who had been severely reprimanded by Lin Zhushui instantly came over and flanked Zhou Jiayu sides, sandwiching him between them. "Zhou Jiayu, what exactly did you see?"
Terrified, Zhou Jiayu huddled into a ball; he unintelligibly croaked, "See? What?"
Chen Yiqiong continuously slammed his hands on the table. "I am asking you just how did you know the owner of the pocket watch was a man?"
Zhou Jiayu: "…I guessed."
Chen Yiqiong sneered. "Oh? And how exactly did you guess?"
Zhou Jiayu: "That pocket watch is obviously a men's watch. Which lady would actually use it that much…"
Chen Yiqiong: "…"
Chen Erbai: "…"
Zhou Jiayu continued fabricating his story. "Moreover, weren't the characters 'Zhang Yu' engraved on the back cover of the watch? You guys don't know that Zhang Yu is Ren Zixiu's name? I just took a casual guess based on these clues…"
In a daze, the two people soon fell silent.
Zhou Jiayu muttered, "I technically did only take a guess…" As a matter of fact, the moment Lin Zhushui announced the other's surname, he immediately figured out the identity of the owner of that pocket watch. If not all, it just so happened that he had a friend who was a hardcore theatre fan and that he himself was also rather knowledgeable in drama and theatre; so all of this was, simply, a convenient coincidence. Ren Zixiu, the owner of that pocket watch, was famous for playing female roles at the time. Anyone who had been exposed to Peking Opera4
knew of this.
Chen Erbai was quiet for a long time before he faintly remarked, "No wonder you can be a swindler."
Zhou Jiayu: "…"
Chen Yiqiong sighed heavily, then stood up and turned to walk away; Chen Erbai followed after him. Their slumped figures reflected those despairing from the vicissitudes of life.
Zhou Jiayu remained on the sofa alone, feeling conflicted between tears and laughter.
In all honesty, ever since he came into this body, he'd been at a loss. He wasn't even certain whether this world and the world that he died in were the same. It was only until today, when he heard the familiar name of Ren Zixiu come out from Lin Zhushui's mouth, that he finally confirmed it and accepted that he'd truly been reborn. Zhou Jiayu sat blankly on the sofa and tried sorting out his thoughts.
Ji Ba spoke in his mind. "What are thinking about?"
Zhou Jiayu replied, "I was wondering if my original body is dead."
Ji Ba returned, "Naturally, it's dead. If that weren’t the case, then I wouldn't take your soul."
Zhou Jiayu let out a bitter chuckle then heaved a sigh, "That's right…" Fortunately, he was a loner who had no one. His parents died when he was young, and he grew up with his grandmother. A few years ago, his grandmother passed away from an illness, and that was the end of it; he finally broke down, fully becoming a man who was left all alone. However, the worst of all was that he died in a car accident, and he didn't even know who he troubled to take care of future matters and arrange his funeral.
"Let's just do a good job. Just wait until Lin Zhushui's fated to live, and then you can do whatever you want to do; even if you want to leave, nobody will stop you." Ji Ba stated.
Zhou Jiayu reckoned that he had no other choice.
Because of the critical injuries they received from that harsh attack during the day, both Chen Yiqiong and Chen Erbai were listless, completely dejected.
Zhou Jiayu felt a twinge of guilt since it was ultimately he and his golden finger, Ji Ba, who caused them to suffer such injuries. And so, he decided to prepare a grand feast with the ingredients that were delivered today.
In a terrible mood, Chen Yiqiong ate the fragrant lamb chops made by Zhou Jiayu then praised, "Sure enough, it was the right thing to tell them to deliver some lamb meat. I did say you would use it." The lamb chops were roasted to perfection, with a crispy outside and a tender inside; the temperature was just right. Just a bite and the rich flavors from the meat and the sauce would explode in one's mouth. The gamey odors and tastes weren't at all potent; with seasoning, only the tempting flavors and aromas of the lamb meat remained.
Zhou Jiayu curiously inquired, "Before I came here, didn't you all eat noodles every day?"
Chen Yiqiong scrunched his face in disgust. "Yes. And fried rice."
Zhou Jiayu: "You can't call for any takeaway here…"
Chen Yiqiong: "No. Master rarely lets us eat anything from outside."
Zhou Jiayu hummed in understanding. He finally somewhat realized why they would always have bitter expressions on their faces whenever the topic of cooking came about.
Chen Erbai's heart, however, wasn't as big as Chen Yiqiong's. His face was still dark after the morning incident with Lin Zhushui. Zhou Jiayu knew that it wouldn't be appropriate to ask certain questions, especially considering his current state; yet, he couldn't resist, and he softly whispered, "Mr. Lin said something about next month; what's that about?"
Chewing on his lamb chops, Chen Yiqiong ambiguously answered, "A major event in the feng shui community."
Zhou Jiayu repeated, "A major event…?"
Chen Yiqiong frowned, seemingly hesitant to explain this matter in detail to Zhou Jiayu. Chen Erbai sneered and retorted, "A competition in the feng shui circles. For what reason are you inquiring about this matter though? Don't tell me you intend to swindle some girls for fun, huh?"
Zhou Jiayu could only feel helpless. It appeared that he wouldn't be able to leave behind his identity as a charlatan for a while. But regardless, to think there were competitions in the feng shui community as well? That sounded pretty cool…
Chen Yiqiong spit out the lamb chop bone, sucked the juice from his fingers, and sighed, "This matter has nothing to do with you. It isn't good to know too much."
Zhou Jiayu could only nod and say okay.
Although he was reborn in the same world, Zhou Jiayu discovered that the place of his rebirth and the place where he had originally lived were almost like two separate dimensions. He could only understand half of what Chen Yiqiong and Chen Erbai were discussing. The concept of feng shui was too incomprehensible, too profound and mysterious, for a beginner like Zhou Jiayu who was only recently introduced to metaphysics.
Because of that incident with Lin Zhushui, Chen Yiqiong and Chen Erbai were extremely moody for the next few days. Zhou Jiayu also noticed that Chen Yiqiong often carried a rustic compass in his hands; he would frequently sit in the living room and mumble to himself. If it weren’t for his own inexplicable rebirth, Zhou Jiayu would've suspected that Chen Yiqiong had a problem with his brain.
The atmosphere was depressing and gloomy for the next four to five days. Then, one sunny afternoon, Lin Zhushui visited the house again.
The day was scorching, yet he arrived without a single drop of sweat on his body. His eyes were closed, and he didn't speak; he practically resembled a frigid ice sculpture.
Chen Yiqiong and Chen Erbai obediently sat side by side on the sofa, immaculately well-behaved, just like two school children who met their headmaster.
Zhou Jiayu had just come downstairs when he witnessed this scene, and so he stealthily turned around to sneak away. He certainly wasn't going to join them.
But who could've imagined that he wouldn't be able to take a step upstairs before a faint, emotionless voice drifted into his ears: "Come here."
Zhou Jiayu froze in place. He slowly twisted around and shakily lifted his arm to point to himself. Sheer terror shone in his eyes. "Me?"
Lin Zhushui gave a curt, indifferent nod.
Zhou Jiayu's whole body was stiff. He rigidly turned back and painfully descended the stairs, looking exactly as if he had polio5
. And the worst part was that the moment he reached the bottom of the stairs, he nearly stumbled and fell.
Chen Yiqiong lowered his head and tightly covered his mouth with his hands. No doubt he would've already burst into laughter if Lin Zhushui wasn't here.
Crest-fallen, Zhou Jiayu dragged his feet over to Lin Zhushui, stood before him, and then lowly muttered his name, "Mr. Lin."
Lin Zhushui's expression hadn't changed. But the next words that came out of his mouth dumbfounded everyone. "Next month, you'll go."
Utter shock marked Chen Yiqiong and Chen Erbai's faces; they looked as if they'd been struck by lightning.
Zhou Jiayu's peach eyes grew wider as he gaped; he didn't dare believe what he just heard. "Me?"
Lin Zhushui replied, "Yes."
Two pairs of glinting eyes instantly bored holes into Zhou Jiayu's body. If the previous remark that Chen Yiqiong and Chen Erbai had wanted to tear him apart like a fresh piece of meat and eat him whole was merely a figure of speech before, then, as of this moment, it became literal, because those two clearly wanted to put this figurative idea into practice.
Zhou Jiayu simply wanted to cry out in despair. He desperately protested, "B-But, Mr. Lin, I don't, I don't know anything…"
Lin Zhushui expressionlessly responded, "You don't need to know anything." To think that in the feng shui community, veterans with nearly a decade of experience were no match for the talented newcomer. But the world wasn't always fair, and this unfairness was especially evident when it came to the arts of divination.
Zhou Jiayu wanted to refute again, but after seeing the expression on Lin Zhushui's face, he couldn't say a single word
Lin Zhushui added, "Yiqiong, bring him to my place tomorrow evening."
Although Chen Yiqiong's eyes were pure red and he was angrily huffing like a bull, once he heard Lin Zhushui's order, he immediately became docile and didn't argue back.
With that said, Lin Zhushui strode out of the place, leaving behind a room full of silence.
Zhou Jiayu and Chen Yiqiong glanced at each other. He didn't dare utter a sound; he simply turned around and ran like hell. He just entered his room when he heard Chen Yiqiong fiercely pounding on the door from outside, furiously yelling, "Zhou Jiayu, you hateful crook, just what kind of vile aphrodisiac did you feed Master in the end—"
Zhou Jiayu: "…"
Chen Yiqiong: "If you have the ability to seduce our master, then you have the ability to open this door ah! Zhou Jiayu, don't just hide in there without saying anything!"Listening to these lines, Zhou Jiayu felt this inexplicable sense of familiarity6.
Chen Yiqiong also seemed to have realized that something was odd. After a long moment of silence, he faintly said from outside, "Come out. Let's just talk it over."
"I really didn't do anything!" Zhou Jiayu maintained. "I'm innocent!"
Chen Yiqiong coldly answered, "Oh."
Zhou Jiayu insisted, "You have to believe me!"
Chen Yiqiong replied, "I believe you—like hell I do!"
Thereupon, the quarrel continued until, finally, Zhou Jiayu no longer had any strength left. He sat on his bed and moaned despairingly, "I really didn't do anything. Don't you already know that I stay in this house every single day?"
Chen Yiqiong was also fully aware of this, but he was still vexed. This competition was held every four years. Last time, it was Zhaosan who went. This time, Musi was the one who was supposed to go, but Musi still had some matters to take care of, and he never returned on time…both he and Chen Erbai thought their master would select one of them, but no one imagined it'd be Zhou Jiayu who unexpectedly popped out from nowhere.
Eventually, Chen Yiqiong indignantly left the area. Wondering the reason Lin Zhushui took an interest in him, Zhou Jiayu questioned Ji Ba.
Ji Ba answered him. "It might be that he saw me in your mind."
"Oh, so it turns out that he was only interested in my Jiba7
." Zhou Jiayu finished saying this sentence and, as always, he felt that something wasn't quite right. After a while, that hint of obscenity finally hit him, and so he desperately pleaded in mortification, "Can't you just change your name?"
"No," Ji Ba declared. "Our entire family has the surname, Ji. And I am the greatest8
Zhou Jiayu: "…" Well, fortunately, your family's surname isn't Wang9.
The two people downstairs could hardly be softened by Zhou Jiayu's food; they were as tough as the tortoise shell under Ji Ba's feet.
In the evening, he went downstairs to prepare a meal. Chen Yiqiong sneered, slammed his hands on the table, and vowed, "Zhou Jiayu, I will never eat anything you make."
Chen Erbai thought differently. "It doesn't matter. He won’t eat, I'll eat."
Chen Yiqiong: "…"
Zhou Jiayu felt as if he was being unjustly attacked just by being here. In fact, a faint suspicion poked the back of his mind, and he couldn't help but wonder whether Lin Zhushui deliberately planned this in order to make Chen Yiqiong and Chen Erbai hate him even more. But, frankly, Lin Zhushui hadn't the slightest intentions to do such a thing. After all, he was the one who ultimately dragged him out of the cement [and stopped him from being beaten to death], and this was a fact.
Although his mouth said he wouldn't eat, Chen Yiqiong's body was awfully honest. Zhou Jiayu also didn't want his relationship with them to be extremely stiff and unfriendly. So, just as if he were pampering a child, he coaxed Chen Yiqiong to the dining table.
Judging from his appearance, Zhou Jiayu estimated that Chen Yiqiong was around seventeen or eighteen years of age, still a young child. Later on, when he and Chen Yiqiong were a bit more familiar with each other, he realized that his estimation was almost correct, because when he had just met Chen Yiqiong, Chen Yiqiong still had more than half a year left before he turned eighteen.
Since he's still a child, it's fine to pamper and coax him. Thereupon, Zhou Jiayu didn't think too much on the matter. However, he still couldn't understand why Lin Zhushui chose him to participate in the competition. Even now, he needed to rely on a compass to find directions and distinguish north from south and east from west.
Before Lin Zhushui left, he told Chen Yiqiong to bring Zhou Jiayu to his residence in the evening. Zhou Jiayu hadn't taken this to heart and put it to the back of his mind, but Chen Yiqiong clearly remembered this instruction.
As a result, on the evening of the second day, Chen Yiqiong dragged Zhou Jiayu out of his room. "Master told me to send you over today. Let's go."
Zhou Jiayu was so nervous and frightened; he felt like a pig that was about to be slaughtered for its meat.
Chen Yiqiong hauled Zhou Jiayu out of the three-story wooden building they lived in. This was the first time Zhou Jiayu was able to take a good look at the scenery since he arrived here—before he was dragged away, that is.
The scenery of the garden was truly aesthetically pleasing. Even Zhou Jiayu, who didn't understand the art of feng shui, felt relaxed and content.
Bypassing the verdant trees and lush pines, Chen Yiqiong strolled with Zhou Jiayu to a small courtyard surrounded by fences. Bamboo plants were growing all around the courtyard, and a natural stream flowed beneath the bamboo groves, running straight and through.
Zhou Jiayu anxiously inquired, "Chen Yiqiong, why did Mr. Lin call you to take me to him?"
Chen Yiqiong grudgingly snapped, "How should I know? Maybe it's just that you're not pleasing to the eyes, so he wants to beat you up."
Zhou Jiayu: "…"
Chen Yiqiong was obviously still feeling bitter about Lin Zhushui choosing Zhou Jiayu as his final decision. He muttered to himself, "It’s not like not knowing anything is a bad thing. If the master chose me, forget about being scolded or tortured, I'd even be happy to be killed."
Zhou Jiayu thought that, luckily, Lin Zhushui wasn't the type to engage in pyramid schemes; otherwise, Chen Yiqiong would definitely be one of those foolish, unruly college students who were bound to be deceived by his relatives.
The two walked through the bamboo groves. After following a pebble trail, Zhou Jiayu soon caught sight of a quaint, wooden building hidden within the depths of the bamboo forest. The house was rather aged, but it didn't at all evoke an unfavorable, old-fashioned feeling. Chen Yiqiong knocked on the door to the house and called out, "Master."
"Come in." Lin Zhushui's voice came from afar.
Chen Yiqiong pushed the door open and entered the house with Zhou Jiayu.
The interior of the building was quite spacious, and it was even bright without the lights turned on. He wasn't sure if it was only his illusion, but Zhou Jiayu felt that the room was a bit cold; in particular, the floor underneath his feet would randomly send out cold air, causing a brief, icy chill to run up his body.
Lin Zhushui slowly stepped into the room. Water dripped from his hands, and he used a delicate towel to wipe it off. He then glanced at Chen Yiqiong and said, "Leave."
Chen Yiqiong nodded and turned to leave. Zhou Jiayu stared at the boy's back with pity in his eyes. It was only after the door slammed shut that he whimpered, "Mr. Lin."
Lin Zhushui sat in front of Zhou Jiayu and casually placed the towel on the table. His voice was as soft and indifferent as ever. "Zhou Jiayu?"
Zhou Jiayu mumbled, "Yeah…"
Lin Zhushui started, "I didn't intend to leave you alive."
Zhou Jiayu was struck dumb.
Lin Zhushui continued, "The things you've done are more than enough for you to die hundreds of thousands of times."
Zhou Jiayu couldn't refute this because whatever Lin Zhushui said was the truth. After Zhou Jiayu saw the memories of the original body from Ji Ba, even Zhou Jiayu felt that he deserved to die.
Lin Zhushui carried on, "But considering that you are able to see propitious energy10
, and you seem to have some ties to feng shui, I will spare your life."
After struggling for a second, Zhou Jiayu finally managed to speak, "Thank you, Mr. Lin."
Lin Zhushui stood up, "Come with me."
Being this close to Lin Zhushui, Zhou Jiayu unexpectedly discovered that his head didn't even reach half his height. Back then, he'd only felt that Lin Zhushui was a beautiful jade carving, so delicate and weak, refined and fragile; but, now, it seemed that the one who was weak and fragile was himself.
Along the way, Zhou Jiayu worriedly asked Ji Ba, "What should we do if Lin Zhushui wants to kill me?"
Ji Ba said, "Don't worry, it probably won't happen. I calculated it; you certainly will not die today."
Zhou Jiayu: "Really?"
Ji Ba: "Really."
As soon as he breathed a sigh of relief, he noticed that Lin Zhushui had paused to push open the door in front of him.
The door opened and a wave of tumultuous heat rushed forth. Zhou Jiayu found that it was actually a bathing room. There was a huge stone bath inside the bath room. It was steaming hot inside, and there also seemed to be a strange herbal scent permeating the air.
Although it was merely a bath room before his eyes, Zhou Jiayu still wasn't convinced by what he saw. He automatically blushed with shame and stuttered, "M-Mr. Lin…"
Lin Zhushui indicated, "Go in."
Zhou Jiayu: "G-Go in?"
Lin Zhushui added, "The bath towels are near the side. Soak inside the water for an hour. Don't resist the heat; otherwise the one to suffer will be you."
Hearing this, Zhou Jiayu was puzzled; he questioned, "Is this bath meant for me?"
Lin Zhushui nodded and no longer spoke. He directly turned around and walked away, leaving a baffled Zhou Jiayu to face this bath.
Zhou Jiayu: "What does Lin Zhushui mean by this?"
Ji Ba: "Just hurry up and go in. He won’t harm you…err, at least he wouldn't use such a troublesome method to harm you."
Zhou Jiayu was astonished. "But I don't know what I did?"
Ji Ba suggested, "Could it possibly be that he dislikes that you're too dirty?"
Zhou Jiayu: "…"
Ji Ba grabbed at its bright yellow, pointed beak with its faded yellow claws. "Well, I also don't know."
Zhou Jiayu gazed warily at the pool of water. After a brief moment of hesitation, he slowly took of his clothes then entered the bath.
'Actor' is referring to one who performs in traditional theatres/Chinese operas. Not a movie actor.2
阴气—yin qi, or yin energy.3
Place names often referred to the five basic directions/yin and yang/the sun/etc. Good location/good name = positive feng shui. LINK4
Beijing Opera, Eastern Opera.5
Formally known as Poliomyelitis/Infantile paralysis6
Referring to famous lines from an actress who starred in 情深深雨濛濛. Apparently, fans started remixing the lines into songs and such. VIDEO LINK
to Original ||
Here he used 鸡巴 (Jiba). Jiba also means ‘cock’ in Chinese. Same pronunciation, just different characters.8
He said “Lao Ba”, meaning: greatest or eldest Ba.9
For Ji Ba’s name, Ji is the surname and Ba is the given name (In western countries, it would be Ba Ji). Regardless, if Ji Ba's surname was Wang, it would then be Wang Ba. Wang ba literally means tortoise, or ‘cuckhold’. Depending on the characters used it also translates to son of the bitch, unvirtuous person, etc. This is all pretty much lost in translation. 10
瑞气—rui qi or auspicious signs/propitious energy/etc.
The hot water in the bath constantly boiled; the temperature resembled the inside of a steaming sauna.
Sitting in the pool of heated water, Zhou Jiayu truly felt like he was about to turn into a boiled fish, or perhaps become cooked, or steamed, or something of the sort. He was feeling a bit light-headed. He then asked Ji Ba, "Under what circumstances would a person make another person bathe?"
Ji Ba pondered this for a long time, but it still couldn't come up with a sufficient answer. It sulked atop the tortoise shell.
Zhou Jiayu looked at its disgruntled expression, and his heart gave rise to sympathy and affection. But then he saw it claw at its sharp beak and groan, mumbling suspiciously to itself, "To force another person to bathe…it seems that only the emperor's imperial concubines would do so before they served him in bed. However, there's no need to fear; Lin Zhushui's vision isn't horrendously poor."
Zhou Jiayu: "…" He glanced down at his own body and noted that his figure wasn't all too bad. He faintly remarked, "Well, Lin Zhushui can't even see anything in the first place." He was good-looking, he was rich, and he was even blind. Lin Zhushui had already attained the highest standards for an ideal husband; he was already the perfect husband material.
Ji Ba: "…"
Zhou Jiayu continued, "But in case he suddenly wants a taste of something fresh…"
Ji Ba: "…"
Zhou Jiayu blushed. "Then how can I possibly refuse?"
If Ji Ba was a person at this moment, then its expression would surely reveal suspicion and contempt. But because Ji Ba was a bird, it had difficulties accurately expressing its true feelings, so it could only resort to saying, "Stop thinking so hard."
In reality, Zhou Jiayu was also joking around. Even though Lin Zhushui's loathing for him wasn't as obvious as Chen Yiqiong's disgust, it was still present; that touch of indifference emitted from his body proved to Zhou Jiayu that he wasn't welcomed. Zhou Jiayu himself was a male, but even up until now, he’s never experienced love ever since he discovered his sexual orientation in high school. Therefore, as a lonely single dog, he truly didn't dare dream of being with Lin Zhushui, who was a flower on a high peak.
Numerous herbs and drugs were placed inside the bath water, but the specific herbs and the ingredients of the medicine were unknown. Nevertheless, after soaking in the steaming water for an entire hour, Zhou Jiayu felt as if his very being was reborn; he felt as if he became a whole new person. His skin was as tender as a freshly peeled egg; even he couldn't resist stroking it a few times.
After washing up, Zhou Jiayu got dressed and silently padded along towards the living room to find Lin Zhushui.
Lin Zhushui sat in the living room and fiddled with a piece of jade. Upon hearing Zhou Jiayu's footsteps, he stood up and said, "Come here."
Although Zhou Jiayu was very curious, he didn't ask any questions. He respectfully walked behind Lin Zhushui. The two passed through a few corridors, and they soon arrived at the second floor. Lin Zhushui eventually stopped in front of a room, pushed open the door, and entered the place after Zhou Jiayu.
The moment Zhou Jiayu caught sight of the bed in the room, his entire body froze and his brain turned blank.
His voice quivered in fear, and he frantically spoke to Ji Ba. "Ji Ba, don't tell me Mr. Lin really wants…"
Ji Ba's body was as stiff as the tortoise shell beneath him; they were a perfect match to each other, creating a single rigid entity.
Zhou Jiayu panicked. "But I'm not ready yet!"
Lin Zhushui was completely unaware of the violent, turbulent internal struggles Zhou Jiayu was currently experiencing. His face remained impassive. "Lie down on the bed."
Terror painted Zhou Jiayu's face white. Finally, he wasn't able to endure it, and he hesitantly inquired, "M-Mr. Lin, what do you want to do…"
Lin Zhushui closed his eyes, his voice was grim. "Asking me what I intend to do. Could it be that you're afraid I'll take advantage of you?"
Zhou Jiayu thought to himself, Mr. Lin, I'm not afraid that you'll take advantage of me. I'm afraid that I'll take advantage of you…
Feeling a bit nervous and frightened, and a tad bashful as well, Zhou Jiayu took a deep breath and slowly slid towards the bed, finally resting on his stomach. A censer holding the smoldering incense was set near the headboard of the bed. The scent wasn't strong, but it lingered around one's nose; it only slightly alleviated his stress and nerves.
Zhou Jiayu's body was tense. He sensed Lin Zhushui gradually approach him, moving closer and closer. He didn't know if it was his own imagination, but he actually felt a wisp of cool air coming from Lin Zhushui's body. It was like a huge block of ice blowing out cold wind, like a human air-conditioner…But Zhou Jiayu no longer had time to ruminate on this matter because, just at that moment, he felt Lin Zhushui reach out with his hands and pat his body several times.
Immediately after, Zhou Jiayu couldn't move his body. But that wasn't the end of it. Lin Zhushui's following actions were shockingly unexpected, for he actually pulled Zhou Jiayu's trouser halfway down…
Zhou Jiayu was horrified, and he fretfully asked Ji Ba, "Your Mr. Lin really won't do anything to me, right? Right, Ji Ba?!"
Ji Ba was also alarmed, and he screeched, "I don't believe—!"
Zhou Jiayu was lying on his stomach on the bed. His current frame of mind was particularly complex. He consoled himself, saying that Lin Zhushui was very attractive, that testing it out with him wasn't necessarily a bad thing, when, all of a sudden, he felt a prick of pain near the small of his back…
Zhou Jiayu twitched, then stiffly turned his head, looking over his shoulder. He soon discovered that things weren't exactly as pleasant or romantic as he'd envisioned. He only saw that wooden face of Lin Zhushui, that sharp needle gripped his right hand, and that tray balanced on his other hand. Zhou Jiayu recognized those objects above; they seemed to be tools used for tattooing.
Zhou Jiayu: "…" He was at a loss, and he was also somewhat disappointed.
On the contrary, Ji Ba was far more excited than Zhou Jiayu. It hopped exuberantly on top of the tortoise’s shell with its three small, faded yellow feet and exclaimed, "I knew it! Lin Zhushui would absolutely never hold presumptuous thoughts or immoral desires, especially towards you!"
Zhou Jiayu: "…"
Ji Ba continued, "See! I told you his vision isn't that
Zhou Jiayu could only reply, "Thank you." Thank you for your great efforts in reminding me of my situation. Now that you have clearly informed me of my own lowly position, I am even more aware of the fact that I should never associate myself to him, that I should never possess any thoughts of a relationship. I give you my utmost gratitude from the bottom of my heart.
While Ji Ba and Zhou Jiayu were fooling around and talking nonsense, Lin Zhushui pricked him with a needle once again.
Perhaps this was the reason he had to soak in the herbal bath beforehand because, in the end, Zhou Jiayu surprisingly didn't feel much pain. The area Lin Zhushui chose was his lower back, specifically the region near his tailbone. Zhou Jiayu didn't have a single clue as to what design would be tattooed on his back.
Zhou Jiayu was lying on the bed, and he wondered, "M-Mr. Lin, why are you giving me a tattoo…"
Lin Zhushui slightly tilted his head to the side, but he didn't answer.
Zhou Jiayu's tailbone region was feeling limp and numb. And, sure enough, it was as he expected; Lin Zhushui's body temperature was much lower than those of others. Even his fingertips were as cold as ice. Zhou Jiayu was so focused on the freezing temperature of Lin Zhushui's fingertips, that he barely noticed the sensation of the acupuncture needles piercing his skin.
Zhou Jiayu rested on his stomach for a while. It wasn't long after before sleepiness descended on him. His eyelids fluttered, and they soon began to droop. But then he heard Lin Zhushui's frosty voice. "Don't sleep."
Zhou Jiayu woke up with a start and found that he'd nearly fallen asleep.
Lin Zhushui then stated, "You may feel some pain later. Bear with it."
Zhou Jiayu had just acknowledged this sentence with an ‘Okay’ when he suddenly felt some sort of liquid being poured on the skin near his tailbone. Immediately after, a searing heat penetrated his skin, causing him to tear up from the pain.
Lin Zhushui seemed to be in the process of coloring the tattoo, which was the final step. His movements were several times slower than before, painfully slow.
The aromatic incense gradually burned to the bottom, and Lin Zhushui also began to finish up.
Zhou Jiayu's forehead was coated in a thin layer of cold sweat from the pain, droplets trickled down his scrunched brows. He stubbornly clenched his teeth in order to bite back the screams of agony that were threatening to erupt. Lin Zhushui was quite amazed by his performance. In all honesty, Lin Zhushui hadn't expected that Zhou Jiayu would be able to resist shouting his grievances out loud.
But it was a pity that Zhou Jiayu couldn't glance behind him and see Lin Zhushui right now, or else he might've discovered that although Lin Zhushui's indifferent face was still as expressionless as before, at least it no longer made one shrink back in fear and cower from the intimidation.
Once the tattoo was complete, Lin Zhushui stretched his arm and lightly tapped on Zhou Jiayu's body a few times. Zhou Jiayu felt his whole body immediately relax. The tense body that was originally paralyzed became flexible once again; he was now able to move freely.
"Lie on your stomach." Lin Zhushui ordered.
Although his voice was still cold, Zhou Jiayu silently modified the other's words to his own liking and took it as the other was simply concerned for his well-being. He commented, "It seems that Lin Zhushui actually has such a soft heart."
Ji Ba heard this statement from his mind and didn't speak.
Zhou Jiayu was wondering why Ji Ba didn't take advantage of this opportunity to boast about Lin Zhushui, but two minutes later, he finally realized the reason.
The area where the tattoo was located suddenly began to feel raw. It was as if an essential oil balm was poured all over his lower back, just above his buttocks, and a wintry breeze started blowing on it.
This inexplicable chillness instantly materialized out of nowhere. At first, Zhou Jiayu thought it was merely his own illusion, but when his body began to convulsing from the penetrating chill, he was positive this icy sensation was real; it was so cold that he nearly fainted.
Zhou Jiayu tried curling into a ball, but his waist was steadily held down by Lin Zhushui.
"Wu wu…it's so cold ah…" Shuddering, Zhou Jiayu whimpered though his quivering lips.
Lin Zhushui's eyes dropped. His fingers gently trailed down Zhou Jiayu's spine until they finally came to a full stop at the point between his lower back and his backside. At this moment, this area was freezing. Although he couldn't see anything, he could still rely on his other senses to identify the tattoo.
Zhou Jiayu's skin was a creamy, healthy white. He probably never did any laborious tasks in his life. His skin was extraordinarily soft and supple, unconditionally exquisite. A cluster of half-blooming lotus flowers surrounded by vivid small fish was painted precisely where his tailbone curved. It didn't matter if one laid eyes on the lotus flowers or on the small fish, the entire design was full of charm and grace, seemingly about to spring to life from Zhou Jiayu's waist in the very next moment.
This ink tattoo complemented Zhou Jiayu's fair skin quite well. Although its location was somewhat questionable, it didn't at all evoke feelings of eroticism or vulgarity. On the contrary, it had a breath of serene elegance to it, an essence of enlightenment1.
Lin Zhushui's hand remained on Zhou Jiayu's waist.
Zhou Jiayu gasps for air became shallower, more urgent. Tremors affected his voice. "S-So cold…" His soon lost all his reason to this insufferable coldness; he even wanted to twist his body around and seize Lin Zhushui's hands to warm himself.
Lin Zhushui slightly increased the strength of his hold and pressed down on his waist harder, suppressing Zhou Jiayu's resistance.
At this time, Zhou Jiayu, who was squirming around the bed, personified a fish out of water that was on the verge of death, suffocating and choking, struggling to return to the sea, yet forced to remain ashore by Lin Zhushui.
This intense chill lasted for about ten minutes before it faded away.
Lin Zhushui's hands were glued to Zhou Jiayu's waist. A steady flow of heat poured into Zhou Jiayu's body, mitigating the chills that made him tremble.
By the time the burning iciness vanished, Zhou Jiayu had already fallen into a state of clouded consciousness.
Lin Zhushui saw him like this and hesitated a bit. He eventually covered him with a blanket then got up and left.
Though Zhou Jiayu was now warm, he was, nevertheless, physically exhausted. That abrupt chilliness had drained all of his strength. He was lying on the bed in a daze, and soon, he sank into a deep sleep.
Surprisingly, he managed to have some high-quality sleep; Zhou Jiayu didn't even have any dreams. He woke up refreshed the next day, and, apart from that soreness in his lower back, there didn't seem to be any other residual effects.
Zhou Jiayu rubbed his eyes, crawled out of bed, and gingerly put on his pants. He observed, "Ah, I slept here all night?"
"Yes." Ji Ba replied.
Zhou Jiayu: "Lin Zhushui actually didn't kick me out. He really is a good man…"
Ji Ba: "…" In just three days, you already got used to living an oppressed life, huh?
Zhou Jiayu blankly sat beside the window for a while then slowly left the room and went downstairs. In his mind, Ji Ba glanced at his foolish expression, and, for a moment, a sort of elderly compassion was produced from within…
In the living room of the first floor, Lin Zhushui was sitting still in repose with his eyes closed. He gently placed a cup of green tea on the table with his right hand. Despite being blind, he was very sensitive to his surroundings. He listened to the soft footsteps of Zhou Jiayu quietly approaching the entrance of the hall, then declared, "Yiqiong will bring you back. In three days, some medicine will be delivered to your residence."
Zhou Jiayu nodded his head in understanding. In all honesty, he had still wanted to ask Lin Zhushui why he drew lotus flowers and swimming fish near his waist, but upon seeing the deadpan expression on Lin Zhushui's face, he was, once again, unable to speak, and so he swallowed back his questions.
In the end, Zhou Jiayu didn't say anything and meekly exited the place.
Lin Zhushui heard the sound of the door closing, and he reached out, picked up the teacup at his side, and took a light sip, reflecting thoughtfully, "Interesting."
Chen Yiqiong was waiting for Zhou Jiayu outside the gate.
Compared to yesterday, his expression right now was very complicated, a mix between curiosity and concealed resentment, a hint of suspicion as well as a touch of envy. His intense stare caused Zhou Jiayu's scalp to tingle, and he involuntarily tried to steer clear of him.
Chen Yiqiong began, "You're here."
Zhou Jiayu replied, "I'm here."
"What happened to you yesterday?" Chen Yiqiong questioned.
Zhou Jiayu didn't utter a word; he noiselessly followed Chen Yiqiong.
Chen Yiqiong paid attention to Zhou Jiayu's walking posture, and soon after, the look of horror swept across his face. "Zhou Jiayu, your ass?!"
Zhou Jiayu's waist and back side were both hurting, but every time he took a step, the latter muscles would stretch and they’d feel as if they were being torn apart, causing him pain. He touched his butt and paused. "It hurts."
Chen Yiqiong: "…"
Zhou Jiayu noticed a Holy Shit expression on Chen Yiqiong’s face, and he immediately realized the other had misunderstood, and so he hurriedly tried explaining, "It's a misunderstanding. It's definitely not what you're thinking."
Chen Yiqiong indistinctly muttered, "Do you even know what I'm thinking?"
Zhou Jiayu: "…"
Chen Yiqiong continued, "I don't like men, but if it's Master…I…I…I'd still be willing, no matter what."
Zhou Jiayu: "…"
To tell the truth, such a bashful expression on the face of Chen Yiqiong, this bright youth who glowed like the sun, who had thick eyebrows, large eyes, and chocolate-like skin, really caused people to worry.
How could Zhou Jiayu allow Chen Yiqiong to have such a misunderstanding? If Lin Zhushui happened to hear of this, he reckoned that he wouldn't be able to keep his insignificant life. "Stop thinking of such preposterous things. Mr. Lin didn't do anything of the sort to me. He only tattooed my lower back."
Chen Yiqiong furrowed his brows. "A tattoo?"
Zhou Jiayu nodded as if he was pounding garlic with his head.
He thought that if he explained this much, Chen Yiqiong's expression would lighten up. But who would've imagined that this younger brother would immediately rush to his side and forcefully tug at his clothes after hearing this?
Zhou Jiayu tenaciously clung to his clothes and cursed loudly, "The fuck?! The hell do you think you're trying to do in broad daylight?!"
Chen Yiqiong didn't listen, "Let me see—"
Zhou Jiayu desperately yelled, "Hold on! Let's go back! Go back! Wait a sec—"
The two men were in a tug-of-war the entire trip back. If it weren't for Zhou Jiayu taking strict precautions and guarding his body to the death, he was sure that Chen Yiqiong would've succeeded and had his way.
After a long, perilous struggle, they finally managed to arrive at their house. Chen Yiqiong grabbed Zhou Jiayu and dragged him to the living room; he clamoured to take a look.
Chen Erbai, who was originally gnawing on a watermelon, caught sight of what the two people were doing, froze for a moment, then spoke up, "Since when were you guys in this kind of relationship?"
Zhou Jiayu: "…"
Chen Yiqiong angrily barked, "Shut up, you!"
Chen Erbai laughed heartily. "Well then, why else would you tell Zhou Jiayu to strip his clothes?" The wide smile still hadn't disappeared from his face, but his face soon turned stiff because of the one sentence that Chen Yiqiong darkly whispered: "Master gave him a tattoo."
Chen Erbai: "Hah?!"
Chen Yiqiong raised his voice. "Master gave Zhou Jiayu a tattoo—"
Zhou Jiayu never understood why Chen Yiqiong had reacted in such an exaggerated manner when he found out that Lin Zhushui gave him a tattoo. It was only after he followed Lin Zhushui for a long time that he came to know just how precious Lin Zhushui's tattoos were.
Since entering the feng shui circles, Lin Zhushui had only given a total of two tattoos, both of which went against the natural laws of the world, for these tattoos were able to change one's fate, rewrite destiny. Some people had even offered a nine-digit price; they begged Lin Zhushui for just one small pattern, but Lin Zhushui wasn't influenced in the slightest; in fact, he even felt disinclined to meet others.
Chen Yiqiong and Chen Erbai had followed Lin Zhushui for five to six years, but they'd only ever heard rumors of this; they've never actually seen it with their own eyes before.
Zhou Jiayu entered the Lin household just a few days ago, and yet, Lin Zhushui still gave him a body tattoo.
For Chen Yiqiong and Chen Erbai, it was as if the clear skies had been split by heavy thunder and lightning; they simply couldn't wrap their chaotic minds around this.
Thereupon, two pairs of flaring eyes stared covetously at Zhou Jiayu. Feeling wronged, he sat on the sofa, then lifted his shirt, exposing his lower back, and muttered, "Don't touch, ah. It still hurts…"
Chen Yiqiong and Chen Erbai both couldn't wait to paste their faces to it.
Fortunately, the tattoo was located near his tailbone. If that tattoo was in an even more shameful and inconspicuous location, a place where one shouldn't even venture with one's eyes, Zhou Jiayu feared these two animals would strip him completely.
"Why's it a drawing of some fish swimming around lotus flowers?" Chen Yiqiong frowned.
Chen Erbai added, "Lotus flowers…ah, right…why are they lotus flowers2
…blue lotus flowers3
Hearing this, Zhou Jiayu became puzzled, "Lotuses are also classified differently?"
Chen Erbai responded, "Naturally. The Blue Lotus is called Utpala4
in Sanskrit. In Buddhist scriptures, however, it's called Lotus Eyes, which refers to the eyes of Guanyin5
Zhou Jiayu thought that it was a good thing he didn't have any designs on his bottom, otherwise his ass would also definitely be scrutinized by the two. Of course, he didn't dare say such things. As a weak, ignorant student who didn't understand or know the difference between anything, he could only surrender and obediently be a subject of study.
"How strange, ah, I’ve never seen this kind of fish before either." If he hadn't taken Zhou Jiayu's pain into consideration, Chen Erbai most likely would've already touched the tattoo by now.
Having no choice to let the others observe him, Zhuo Jiayu no longer had any reservations and he simply lied down on the sofa. He then told Ji Ba that he'd finally tasted how it feels to be a big, manly man6.
Ji Ba: "You happy?"
Zhou Jiayu: "I'm neither happy nor am I having any fun. Can you help me?"
Ji Ba: "Nope."
Zhou Jiayu: "Then why'd you ask?"
Ji Ba: "I can still be happy on behalf of the big, manly man."
Zhou Jiayu: "…"
Chen Yiqiong narrowed his eyes, glaring harder, still not entirely satisfied. He ran upstairs to grab a pen and some paper to copy the drawing. Zhou Jiayu asked him, "Friend, why not just use your cell phone and snap a picture?"
Chen Yiqiong exclaimed, "Aiya! I forgot! Wait for me to get my SLR camera!"
Zhou Jiayu: "…"
He hastily skipped up the stairs. Chen Erbai gazed at Zhou Jiayu's waist and sighed in admiration. "It's truly beautiful."
Zhou Jiayu: "…" He remained on the couch and glanced at the doorway. He thought to himself that it might not be a smart idea to stay in this house any longer, or else the three's relationship would, without a doubt, suddenly plunge into the Yellow River and become muddy, never to be washed clean again. And the most terrifying part was that he was lying directly beneath them, his body was resting on its stomach right under the noses of these two men, whose faces were a picture of obsession with crazed eyes blazing with infatuation, as they appraised the fascinating artwork on his lower back.
Although he was certainly pleased with his own waist… he definitely wouldn’t be able to survive these two men's endless harassment ah!
Original said Buddha Nature.2
青莲花–Nymphaea caerulea/Egyptian Lotus/Blue Lotus/Blue Water Lily4
优钵罗–Yōu bō luō/Utpala/Indivara/Pushkara 5
The Bodhisattva of Compassion/Goddess of Mercy. 6
满身大汉— Refers to a big, manly, buff person (a trainer or athlete or so), who, I suppose, gets jumped on by others… First image found: LINK
I am not entirely familiar with Buddhism, so if anyone has anything to share/correct in regard to that, or anything in general, feel free to do so.