Cheng Nuo has been in the slums for more than a year and has adapted to the life in this place. However, he still isn’t used to the lifestyle in which people pick up trash from the garbage dump. He is still repulsed by the food and clothes scavenged from there.
The problem was that the land was too barren to hunt two or three months a year during the dry season. It’s also impossible to dig up wild vegetables in the fields. The water in the river mostly dries up, too. There’s enough to water drink but not enough for anything else. Therefore, the people have to buy what they need during that time and the energy coins that they had easily accumulated were reduced to less than half.
Liu Guang has grown a little taller this year but he was still shorter and thinner than his peers and his large eyes had become even brighter and more lively. His appetite was so much bigger now that he could eat two bowls of rice at every meal. Whenever Cheng Nuo saw this thin neck, he couldn’t wait for him to eat more. Cheng Nuo himself has grown a lot taller so the gap between their heights was even longer than before. As to what sort of angry feeling arose in Liu Guang heart because of this, don’t ask!
Whenever they had some free time, Liu Guang would leave Cheng Nuo to go to the mountain to train. Unfortunately, Liu Guang didn’t actually know how to train. He was simply desperate to become faster and more powerful. Once, Cheng Nuo saw Liu Guang walking up and down with a huge stone. His thin back was stooped from the weight of the stone and it looked extremely painful.
When Liu Guang saw the short sword that Bai Rui had given to Cheng Nuo, he was furious. The expression on his angry face seemed to accuse Cheng Nuo of being a traitor so Cheng Nuo had to work long and hard to appease him.
Cheng Nuo quite liked this short sword. The shape was unusual and it was very sharp but unstained by blood. It was really too heavy for him to use and would probably be more appropriate for Liu Guang to use——but based on the current situation, Liu Guang would rather throw it to the bottom of the river.
Liu Guang eventually got over it. Anyway, later he went out and gave it to him, still mad at Bai Rui. He said sullenly: “Don’t accept anything from others in the future! Especially that Bai person! … If you like knives, I’ll buy you a better one in the future.”
Cheng Nuo grinned and pinched his nose: “Okay, next time we see Bai Rui, will you give the short sword back to him?”
Everything went well except for the occasional worries about life. The people from the Lan Yue Camp did not come back to trouble them, either for fear that the blood curse would endanger their second-in-charge’s life or for other reasons.
One day when they went to town they saw the news posted in the middle of the town square that Qinghua Sect was recruiting disciples.
The Qinghua Sect is a large faction that is directly subordinate to the city lord. Thus, it was one of Liao Ji City’s most important military forces and the threshold for recruitment was very high. Once a person enters the sect, his status will be raised so it was regarded as a great opportunity for a civilian to change his destiny. After all, in this world the strong are respected. There are many nobles and slaves and many clans don’t even accept ordinary civilians into their ranks.
Cheng Nuo’s blood heated up almost to its boiling point when he read the news, this was indeed a good opportunity.
Cheng Nuo had secretly discovered that he had a wood type ability which allowed him to harden his skin when he was attacked. It only lasted for about five seconds and, moreover, his spiritual energy wasn’t very effective at the time. The ability must have awakened when he fell from the cliff, luckily he wasn’t killed. There may be dangers later so Cheng Nuo hoped he could become strong enough to become just like a character in a novel who can protect other people.
The expression on Liu Guang’s face was filled with contradictory emotions. He knew that by entering a sect he could become stronger but he hated all of the so-called noble city lords from the bottom of his heart. However, Liu Guang remembered what Bai Rui had said to him with a scornful look on his face as he was leaving. Gritting his teeth, he looked up at Cheng Nuo and said: “I want to sign up.”
Cheng Nuo smiled, and stroked Liu Guang’s hair: “OK, let’s go together.”
Liu Guang felt anxious. Indeed, these sects recruit disciples based on their qualifications without caring about their gender. Even females can be given high positions and get preferential treatment. But how can his mind be at ease if his wife also signs up?
A few years ago, young people from the slums had participated in the recruitment. Most of them were killed or injured and none of them were accepted into the sect. The test was said to very cruel. He would rather that Cheng Nuo stay at home with Cao Tou helping to take care of him.
There were a lot of people there so Liu Guang didn’t say anything. He waited until they had returned home and said, his face red: “No, you can’t go! Female… It’s too dangerous. I will come back very soon.” He knew that Cheng Nuo hated being called “female” so he stopped himself.
Cheng Nuo didn’t want to quarrel with someone who had such a big head. He said in a serious tone of voice: “If you don’t let me go, I will go by myself later. Don’t worry, if I am not chosen then I will return.”
His tone was very firm. Liu Guang’s small chest heaved in anger but he eventually agreed to go together since he was reluctant to be apart from Cheng Nuo. It’s not safe to leave him alone at home. What if he was abducted?
Liu Guang looked at Cheng Nuo with various conflicting emotions flashing across his face: “Alright, anyway I’ll protect you.”
When he said that his face suddenly flushed a little and his long eyelashes swept down, looking very cute.
Cheng Nuo was so moved that he couldn’t help but pull Liu Guang over and pinch his face intimately. He smiled: “Yes, I know Xiao Guang is quite ferocious.”
Liu Guang’s face had only turned a little red before but now his face became blood red. He broke off from Cheng Nuo’s hold impatiently and fixed his eyes on Cheng Nuo: “You talk too much!”
Now that they had made the decision, they began preparing for the test. Although the slums were in Liao Ji City’s territory, they were quite far away from the city. If they went on foot it would take a month at least. Cheng Nuo calculated the time left before the test. It was still two months away, meaning they had plenty of time.
Cheng Nuo sorted out the family’s savings which was a total of three hundred primary energy coins. He was a believer in the adage “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” so the coins were spread out in different places. Some were sewn into their clothes, some were hidden in their baggage, and he and Liu Guang carried some, too. In fact, this little bit of money wasn’t really a big deal. The prices in the city were probably a lot higher than they were in town.
They turned all of the food they could into dry rations and the leftovers that couldn’t be dried were distributed among half a dozen children. Of course, Cheng Nuo brought along the short sword that Bai Rui gave him.
As they were leaving, Cao Tou looked at Liu Guang with tears in his eyes: “Brother Guang, Cheng Nuo, in two years I will follow you.” The other children also shouted their farewells.
Liu Guang frowned and said: “How can you cry like this? Aren’t you a man?”
Cheng Nuo felt a little sad but he couldn’t help but laugh every time he saw his own small child scolding someone who was half a head taller than him. He hastened to comfort Cao Tou.
Cao Tou and Jin Yu accompanied them to the entrance to the village and parted with them reluctantly. Cheng Nuo couldn’t help waving back to them. He looked back at the mountain of garbage that was growing smaller and smaller in the distance and unexpectedly felt somewhat disappointed and frustrated. Although it was dirty and smelly, he had stayed there for so long that he felt emotional about leaving.
He looked down Liu Guang whose footsteps betrayed his excitement and who was pulling Cheng Nuo’s hand all the way forward as they walked. He was a really carefree child. Cheng Nuo’s sadness quickly disappeared and he quickly caught up with Liu Guang.
Liu Guang’s ability to survive in the wild was very strong. He had a natural talent for finding water, safe places to sleep in like caves, and so forth. Cheng Nuo was convinced that his nose was keener than a dog’s.
When they slept at night in the same bed at home Cheng Nuo always hugged Liu Guang because he might fall into the fire if he wasn’t careful. Of course, when Liu Guang was awake he certainly wouldn’t let Cheng Nuo hug him.
After seven or eight days of walking, they had eaten all of their food. Eventually, they left the frontier area completely and the towns they passed were getting bigger and bigger. The prices were also getting more and more expensive the farther they traveled. Cheng Nuo winced each time they paid for something. They carefully controlled their expenses but even so, his wallet grew thinner and thinner every day.
At night, in order to save money, they didn’t live in inns. They always looked for some temple to take shelter in but if they couldn’t find one, they would sleep under other people’s eaves so sometimes they were chased off like beggars.
Liu Guang ground his teeth and said to Cheng Nuo in a serious tone of voice, “I will definitely make a lot of money in the future. I’ll buy a big house for you to live in and there will be 100 dishes every meal time. After wearing a set of clothes once you can throw it away.”
Cheng Nuo laughed and laughed. Are the rich really so wasteful? He patted the little man’s shoulder and smiled: “Alright, I’ll write down your promise.”
They walked for three more days and finally arrived at a second-tier city that was under Liao Ji City’s jurisdiction.
A city was really different from those small villages. Guang City’s gates were high enough for people to look up at. Fortunately, there was no sign saying that the poor were not allowed inside so they were able to enter without any trouble.
There were quite a few small sects in a big city like this. From time to time, disciples in their uniforms could be seen riding all kinds of animals. Cheng Nuo looked around unreservedly like a country bumpkin getting his first glimpse of big city life. Liu Guang was not much better than him and looked around excitedly at all of the novel sights.
This place was full of brights colors, very different from the dark colors of the slums. When Cheng Nuo saw those females wearing red and green, the corners of his eyes twitched.
He now realized that the females that he saw in town were relatively normal-looking. Some of the females here obviously had an old uncle’s face but they were dressed in a ridiculous way, with their ornamental hairpins made of bright gems. Jade pendants hung from their waists and their robes were embroidered in silver thread with elaborate designs of flowers, birds, etc. Cheng Nuo eyes were blinded! The females from wealthy families sat on gorgeous carriages or sedan chairs, followed by a little manservant.
Cheng Nuo sighed in relief when he saw that, fortunately, there was no makeup in this world. Otherwise, people wouldn’t want to leave home!
After a few days of travel, Cheng Nuo decided to let Liu Guang eat a little better and rest in an inn. He pinched Liu Guang’s cheek and noticed that was so thin it barely had any flesh on it.
“Don’t pinch my face when we’re outside! You can swat me on the head if you want.” Liu Guang whispered, uncomfortable at being treated like this by Cheng Nuo.
“Alright, I know.” Cheng Nuo looked around curiously and casually responded.
The affection between the people of this world was very weak. Whether it was loved ones or relatives, their emotions are not too deep and there were few intimate moments that could be seen in public. Acting so intimate with Liu Guang was very unusual in this world. This world is really too bad!
卿华门 – Qinghua Sect. There are several different ways to translate this but I think Qinghua is probably a person. Qīng – honorific for a high ranking official. Huà – surname, meaning magnificent, splendid, or flowery. Mén – a sect or school. So it’s something like “Lord Hua’s Sect/School.” It’s like how in modern times we have “George Washington University.”
“Cheng Nuo looked around unreservedly like a country bumpkin getting his first glimpse of big city life.” – The original said that Cheng Nuo was 刘姥姥进大观园 (Liú lǎo lao jìn Dà guān yuán). Literally, this means “Granny Liu visiting the Grand View gardens.” This is a reference to Granny Liu, a character in the classic novel Dream of the Red Chamber. As she is a poor peasant woman who visited a wealthy noble family, this expression is used to describe someone, usually a simple unsophisticated person, who is overwhelmed by new experiences and luxurious surroundings. I simply used the English equivalent. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Granny_Liu