Following the end of the bustling Lantern festival was the arrival of New Year. Everyone in the district began busying around. In Guang Tian, the busiest season could be said to be the spring. Mo Shu had stayed in the office obediently for the whole winter season. Seemingly growing restless now, he kept thinking of ways to get out for a walk every day. Of course, under the restraints of the wise and magnificent Advisor Zhu Xi, the chances of it succeeding were very low. Zhu Xi had stated that Mo Shu had to stay in the office for two seasons each year at least. If he did so, he wouldn’t force him to stay at other times.
Nan Ge Er’s days were hectic as well. Recently, he had been planting seedlings in the ‘vegetable garden’ every morning and even learned how to water and care for the vegetation from the experienced. When he was done with that, he had to take a look at the animals he reared in the backyard. By the time he got back after finally finishing his rounds, it was already almost noon.
He had finished his meals before storytelling at the doors of the office. Under everyone’s reluctant gazes, he went back to eat something casual to fill his stomach together with Mo Shu. The night arrived after that. The poor Mo Shu-xiansheng would use the night time to tidy the house, sweeping it, while also washing clothes if needed. Nan Ge Er assisted and helped him out.
After the candle was burned for some time, the two of them had washed their hands and feet, blew the candle out and went to bed, saving the oil. Compared to those affluent people, the two poor children had no choice but to turn their lights out early. Of course, as compared to the miserable Nan Ge Er, Mo Shu-xiansheng was much more refreshed.
“What legends did you talk about today?” Mo Shu slept on one side while asking Nan Ge Er, Currently sleepy and tired to the bone after hustling the whole day, Nan Ge Er was in excruciating pain upon hearing that question.
He was just a weak, normal human being; completely incomparable to Mo Shu, who possessed monster-like vitality. After toiling all day, he could only feel his brain getting muddled. How could he find any energy to repeat the story he said today? Thus, he only haphazardly uttered, “Can’t remember.” His paste-like brain had currently lost its ability to process anything…
“I heard that it was a demon with the tail of a fish.” Mo Shu had a great desire to converse. He reached his leg out to poke Nan Ge Er a little. “Is that how it goes?”
“Ah, yes.” Nan Ge Er forced himself to rouse up, giving a half-hearted and hazy answer.
“It was fond of a crown prince.” Mo Shu added.
“That demon ended up dying.” Mo Shu continued while persistently poking Nan Ge Er’s armpit with his foot.
“…” At a complete loss for words, Nan Ge Er sighed, “If you had such a clear idea, what more do you still want me to tell?” Why don’t YOU tell it to me, Mo Shu-xiansheng!
“Because I didn’t hear to the end, so I wanted Nan Ge Er to tell me again, you know~?” Mo Shu laughed.
… Can you not add that at the end of your sentence? “you know”… Who are you being coquettish to, old man?
Nan Ge Er was completely awake from Mo Shu’s pokes—alright, a small part of the reason was actually due to…him being woken by embarrassment from Mo Shu’s words. How outrageous must a person be to get to that fellow’s level?
“Up to where exactly did you listen?” Nan Ge Er knew that if he didn’t satisfy Mo Shu wishes, he probably couldn’t even hope to sleep tonight. Nan Ge Er had no way out—this was a custom; before sleeping at night, he still had to retell stories to the little kiddie Mo Shu…
“The demon looking for a sorcerer to request human legs.” Mo Shu replied. He even criticized after that, “This demon must have not cultivated enough, to need someone else’s help for that.”
Nan Ge Er twitched his lips—poor little mermaid, being analyzed into a mere utensil by this fellow!
“After that, that princess from the demon tribe became a human, leaving her tribe behind, to find that crown prince in the capital city.” Actually, in the beginning, Nan Ge Er told it in a narrative that respected the original version a little more, but after being twisted by Mo Shu, it became a pirated version of the New Legend of Madame White Snake…
“Speaking of, the demon’s mindset is rather puzzling.” Instead of just listening silently, Mo Shu liked to comment his thoughts occasionally, “Since she knew the prince was of a different species from her, she should have just caged him up when she rescued him, because if the crown prince returned to his city, he could enjoy the company of countless beauties, and could even marry someone from an important official’s family in the end, gaining support from his retainers, and obtaining the whole world. And the crown prince, who knew of her existence, may even send out troops to attack her land, killing the demon spawns, to gain a good reputation.” He spouted out treacherous sentences calmly, continuously belittling the little mermaid, “When she saved the prince, she should have submerged him, why did she let him go?”
Nan Ge Er’s gaped open. Once again, he lost the desire to finish the story for Mo Shu. That’s right, Mo Shu-xiansheng always had such dreadfully dark comments, clearly analysing the irrational parts of every story.
However, Mo Shu complained yet again when Nan Ge Er stopped speaking, “Why aren’t you continuing?”
How the heck can I continue when you comment on the story this way? “… Daren, it is just a story.” He really wanted to just shut his mouth after that, pretending that he was already asleep. However, as his previous attempts at faking sleep had always ended in failure, he had no choice but to explain to Mo Shu in annoyance, “You can’t just analyze every legend thoroughly. It isn’t a case; you don’t have to treat them seriously.”
“How uninteresting.” Mo Shu murmured, “But we should chat a bit at least.”
“You should sleep instead of talking at night,” Nan Ge Er spoke as he scrunched his face up.
“Then let’s sleep on the same side,” Mo Shu requested.
Are we best friends? Sleeping on the same side… Do you intend to share some secrets with me, Da ge1 …? Nan Ge Er didn’t even have the strength to reply to Mo Shu’s suggestion.
However, Mo Shu was always a person with high awareness; noting that Nan Ge Er didn’t move, Mo Shu assumed his consent, so he got up at once.
“Lie down and don’t move.” As soon as Nan Ge Er heard the rustling noise in the darkness, he immediately stopped Mo Shu, “I made sweet pancakes today; unless you don’t want to have them tomorrow.” Mo Shu immediately lay back down. What a pitiful man, controlled entirely by instincts.
“Jun Yao Country is going to be levying troops tomorrow, some people from the district may be going.” After quite a long time, when Nan Ge Er was almost slipping into his dreams, Mo Shu suddenly informed him.
Although his thoughts were jumbled up from his sleepiness, Nan Ge Er still instinctively detected the meaning behind Mo Shu’s words—he said that Jun Yao Country was going to be levying troops.
… Strange. Isn’t Guang Tian within Jun Yao’s territory? He mulled over in his heart, confused. However, as he was too sleepy, his nerves had lost their agility as well. He only found it weird, but he didn’t feel nervous or shocked.
“Some of them… might never be able to come back.” Mo Shu continued coolly, “Are you going to take a look?”
… What a strange way of speaking. Why can’t they come back, is there danger outside of the district? Uh, it indeed is dangerous being in the army, but the world is currently at peace, there don’t really seem to be any wars of a large scale, right? Nan Ge Er mumbled in his heart.
“… Not fun at all.” Mo Shu muttered, “Hmph… Great righteousness? It’s all a pile of dog shit.”
Woah. It seemed like Mo Shu had spilled out some terrible words.
“Will Nan Ge Er be going… tomorrow?” Mo Shu asked again.
Nan Ge Er felt that if he said he wasn’t going, Mo Shu would probably be disappointed in him. He didn’t wish for that to happen. Though that guy was clueless and infuriating, driving him mad every time, he could still discern good from bad. The people in the district treated him with warmth and kindness. Mo Shu’s treatment towards him was even more indisputable. Precisely due to that, he didn’t want to disappoint anyone. Furthermore, he had also found out how wilful Mo Shu-xiansheng was. If he didn’t give him a satisfying answer, Mo Shu would keep on pestering him. Simply depressing. Hence, he gave him a befuddled, “Mn,” as an answer.
“What a lovable child.” Nan Ge Er had seemingly heard Mo Shu laugh as he spoke.
However, being gently beckoned by his fatigue, Nan Ge Er swiftly abandoned Mo Shu to play with Zhou Jia Dage2. The person on the other side of the bed was breathing rhythmically, already slipped into a deep sleep.
After confirming Nan Ge Er was indeed asleep, Mo Shu got up, carefully pressed on the blankets to prevent wind from getting in, before crawling towards Nan Ge Er. He lifted the blankets up and made his way in, lying in bed with his head inches away from him.
The slight coldness of Mo Shu’s body annoyed Nan Ge Er. He smacked his lips in his dreams while trying to avoid him.
However, Mo Shu would never be that easy to avoid. He reached his hands out, enveloping Nan Ge Er in his embrace.
Though Nan Ge Er was in his dreams, he probably still realized Mo Shu would never let go. After pushing away for a bit, he shoved his entire body into Mo Shu’s embrace, as if lazily thinking it was too much trouble. Through the use of internal force, Mo Shu’s embrace became warmer.
Mo Shu lifted his lips into a smile and extended his hand to pat Nan Ge Er’s back. Actually, he didn’t plan on squeezing in, but that child’s attitude elated him since it was hopelessly lovable. So astute, yet adorable.
1 Da ge: similar to ‘ge’ in chp 5’s T/N, it is a suffix used to address one’s elder brother, or an older male. For this instance, Nan Ge Er is trying to emphasize Mo Shu’s (old) age.
2Zhou Jia Dage:Nan Ge Er was affectionately referring to the God of Dreams. More info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duke_of_Zhou#God_of_Dreams