-Translated by BluePhoenix, Credits to dawnelkin for reference translation
“Just like the moon that falls below the western horizon, I am willing to fall to your side…”
No matter how beautiful the setting sun is, the moment it sinks below the horizon, it cannot be seen any more.
No matter how brilliant the light of the evening sky is, it is still destined to be swallowed up by the darkness.
The evening is just a prelude to the coming of night. When night falls, the hateful moon and its weak moonlight can never chase away the deep darkness.
I stood at the city gates, staring far into the distance. Even I was unsure what I was looking at. Still staring blankly, I took out my diary and added yet another strike to the bottom of a page already crammed with strikes. After so much time, this no longer affected me as much as it did the first time.
Today, Lord Hui1 still hasn’t come back.
“Lord Luo2, we are ready to depart.”
I kept my diary and adjusted my expression until I felt that it was no different from usual.
Lord Hui always said that I shouldn’t be too mindful of my status, and should smile and make noise like a normal child.
I gently stroked the jade pendant hanging at my waist, which had my name carved on it. Lowering my head slightly, I could glimpse the red tassel3 that was bound to me out of the corner of my eye. I pressed my lips together tightly. My frame of mind, which was never relaxed to begin with, now became even more tensed.
Only five people in East City had been given the title of ‘Lord’4 and a jade pendant.
Among those people, I was the only one with a commonly seen red tassel.
“This time, the people dispatched from Fallen Moon don’t seem to be very strong. We should be able to get it easily,” said the person behind me and to my left. He probably didn’t mean any harm, but this statement made my mood change for the worse.
I was not deliberately trying to be sarcastic.
If I was a little more straightforward, maybe more people would like me?
Still, this was just my wishful thinking. I cannot do this.
“I-I’m sorry, Lord Luo! I did not mean that!”
Listening to those words of apology that were filled with terror, I silently continued moving forward, ignoring that person.
This world is called Fantasia7. When I was born, the ‘Sunken Moon’ had already existed in this world for a very, very long time.
The ‘Sunken Moon’ is a godly weapon that was discovered jointly by East City and West City. It has an unimaginable power – the power to attract the souls of the dead from many parallel universes, create a passage to send them to our world, and recreate their bodies so that they can have a new life. Our job is to welcome these people and escort them back to our city. So that they can become a part of us, they are given the identity of migrants.
Migrants are an extremely precious labor resource. In recent years, the method of welcoming them has gradually become more of a battle, as nobody will happily watch their enemy become stronger. Therefore, every time the Sunken Moon sends a message that there will be a new soul coming to our world, regardless of whether the soul should rightfully belong to us or Fallen Moon, we will dispatch a squad of elites to the exit of the passage, because those despicable people from Fallen Moon will also do the same.
Usually, we will get into a fight to decide who gets the soul. Both parties will attempt to position themselves at the exit of the passage right before the person walks out after his/her body is created.
This is because the squads that have been assigned the job of snatching people have all definitely prepared magic circles for evacuation which can directly teleport people back to their own cities. Both the sorcery of East City and the magic of Fallen Moon8 can do this, so the side that grabs the migrant the moment he/she comes out of the passage after his/her body is formed and activates the teleportation spell is the winner.
The passage of the Sunken Moon usually opens when the moon rises to its zenith. Also, only during this period of time is the area around the passage safe for humans to approach. This was the reason they chose to set off when it was evening, so that they could be there just in time for the safe opening of the passage.
“Lord Luo, the people from Fallen Moon are here.”
I listened to my comrade’s report and nodded. I turned and looked in the opposite direction.
This place was illuminated only by the weak light from the passage, but it was enough to see the enemy by. I knew that they had also seen us. The light reflected off their drawn swords was blinding, further worsening my already terrible mood.
“Prepare your spells!”
Besides the magic circle used for teleportation back to the city, there is also offensive and support sorcery. I just commanded my squad to use offensive sorcery.
Perhaps because I was feeling irritated and empty, I hoped that I could vent my frustration through fighting.
With this suicidal thought in mind, I stared at the enemy opposite me and pulled out an attack charm9.
Lord Hui, just where did you go?
I have always been searching for you. Always, waiting for you to come back…
My name is Fan Tong, and my job is fortune-telling. When I set up a stall to do business, I use the name Fan Tai Sui. However, ever since I was cursed, it has been very hard to do business… No, I should say that my business has instead improved, but in a very weird way. I don’t know whether I should be happy or frustrated about this! Hmm…I guess I have to talk about the curse.
About this curse… it’s as illogical as it can possibly be! Why do I have to be so unlucky… All I did was call a young lady ‘old hag’, and she cursed me. She said that from today onwards, whenever I speak, nine phrases out of ten will be the opposite of what I truly mean. The curse actually worked! And it’s not even my fault for not knowing how old she is, she looks so mature!
What do I mean? For example, after being cursed, when I see a male customer and want to greet him, I will want to say “Sir”. However, what I actually say is “Miss”. After that, I will be painfully punched by him. What? You say that this is not very serious? This is definitely very serious! As for how bad the situation regarding ‘nine phrases out of ten’ is, I can show it to you, don’t mention it.
The conversation will be something like this:
“Miss.” Punched one time.
“Miss, I didn’t mean it, this is because…” Punched.
“Miss, please let me explain…” Punched.
“Miss…” Punched again.
“Are you blind? Why didn’t you notice that I am male until now!”
In the end, I will still be beaten up.
See what I mean? There is a 10% chance I will say something normal, but this is totally useless! If I only say the right thing on the tenth try, won’t I have been punched nine times already?
Actually, generally speaking, when it comes to the later sentences, saying the correct thing one time is not good enough to spare me the beating. Trust me, I have experience in this… But this is NOT the main point!
What’s worse than the reversed speech disorder, is that not every phrase in a sentence will be reversed. Therefore, even if I think about the opposite thing and say it, it is completely useless. I have already been surprised many times by the unbelievable language proficiency of this curse that can be said to be a special ability. In addition, I have never been good at telling lies, and have always been an honest and good-hearted person. So even if there are loopholes, I would not know how to take advantage of them.
There is another tragic problem. When that bitch was cursing me, she mentioned that the curse would be cured if I say the number “???” while talking naturally with another person. However, just when she was saying those key words, a baby nearby cried. In the end, I didn’t hear those words. Before I could confirm what those key words were, that bitch ran off… Who knows if that damned number is one million or ninety million!? It doesn’t even count if I just talk to myself, I have to talk naturally with somebody else! Also, in my current situation, everyone would run away after hearing me speak a few phrases!
I am thinking very calmly. I really am thinking very calmly.
Because of the ‘blessing’ of this curse, I am still a bachelor who cannot find any girlfriends. The thing I am closest to and is most fated to experience are slaps. This is not worth being happy about at all.
I have no choice. Every time I want to praise a girl, I end up saying things like “You’re so ugly”, “Your looks make me lose my appetite”, and “You are the most gullible girl I have ever seen”. In this kind of situation, no girl will ever care about me, and I hope that none of them will. Because the one who still cares about me after hearing that is definitely not a normal woman, and I value quality over quantity! I can survive even if I am alone! At most, I just cannot continue on the family line! Sorry, ancestors!
It’s okay to have no girlfriends, but it’s not okay to go hungry. Thus, I have to continue my fortune-telling business. This also gives me a chance to talk to people, so it’s killing two birds with one stone. Although I am a little worried about what will happen if I use this mouth to tell fortunes, this is the only job I know how to do. In order to feed myself, even if this is a path of no return, I still have to walk it.
After that, as I have said before, I don’t know why (Could it be because the words I said became too deep and it makes me seem like a wise sage?) but my business actually improved. Even if you say that this is a blessing in disguise, I cannot accept it! All I say is some garbage reversed language, but my business improved. Doesn’t this mean that my calculations in the past are all inaccurate!? Damn!
Okay, I have been thinking calmly for a long time now, but it doesn’t seem to help at all. Is this a dream? Why can’t I wake up? Where on earth am I?
Didn’t both this white passage and the person just now who asked me to fulfill his dying wish feel like something from a dream?
Talking about that, I feel really bad for that person. Even when I’m dreaming, my speech disorder still follows me and refuses to forgive me. It took a really long time before I successfully agreed to help him fulfill his dying wish. By that time, I felt that he would turn over in his grave and never rest in peace…
Where on earth am I?
If this is not a dream, then have I been cursed by someone again? Just who did I offend this time? Recently, I’ve been doing my best not to greet my customers!
I looked closely and discovered that there is an end to this passage. I might as well just walk out and have a look, since I was already so unlucky. No matter what happens, I will not be afraid any more.
After walking for some time, I reached the exit. When I stuck my head out, I suddenly realized that actually, I am feeling quite scared.
Outside, there were two groups of people fighting and killing each other. The attacks they were hurling at each other were no joke. I couldn’t understand most of what I was seeing and hearing, but I can understand the sight of humans exploding into pieces, sending flesh and blood flying everywhere, even if I didn’t understand what caused the explosion.
Oh my god, what should I do now? Should I bet which side would win? If I won the bet, would I be able to escape from this dreamland? Ahahaha. Uwah! That person over there was torn into two halves! Can I faint now? Can people faint in dreams?
“Hurry up and come out!”
The fighting on both sides was extremely aggressive. As I watched the show, I thought about whether I could get a refund for my ticket. A bishōnen suddenly ran in front of me and stopped a few paces away from me. He then asked me to jump into that sea and be part of the show… No, no, this is starting to feel more like a dream, but it’s also starting to feel less like a dream…
“Noooo! I don’t even have the strength to tie up a chicken! Asking me to go out is the same as sending me to my death!”
Oh my god! I actually got lucky with the 10% chance and said the right thing! I’m so touched at being able to express my intentions correctly, especially in this life-or-death situation…
That bishōnen frowned. Weird, I didn’t even say the wrong thing, did he not understand me? Even if he doesn’t understand me, can’t he see my strong will to live?
“What are you saying? You’re already dead. Don’t you know that, Fan Tong?”
Wait wait wait wait wait a moment! I don’t need to know how you know my name, but why did I die without even knowing how I died!? Is this place heaven? Or is it hell? Can I hold on to that tiny shred of hope that this is heaven? Although it doesn’t look like heaven at all…
“Lord Luo! Behind you!”
While I was still struggling to get a grasp of the situation, that bishōnen who seems to be called Lord Luo dodged to the side with a shockingly agile movement… and I saw a huge fireball headed my way.
I heard a few cries of exclamation and saw the bishōnen looking at me with a panicked expression. After that… because it was too painful, I can’t describe what happened. To summarize, it was like being f***ing crushed by three billion tons of gold. At that moment, I really wanted to swear out loud. If you guys have the time to act all shocked, why can’t you help me block that attack––!
I’m already dead, and although I haven’t accepted this fact and figured out how I died, do you have to kill me again because of this––!
No, there is still room to discuss whether this should be considered dying twice or whipping a corpse…
Pale and slender fingers slid across black hair as soft as satin. The combing procedure had just been completed. Next was tying this beautiful hair into a suitable hairstyle.
The owner of the hair was sitting quietly, waiting for the person serving her to finish his work. She was the noble and honorable Empress10 of East City, so naturally she wouldn’t have to do things like this herself.
“Will any hairstyle do?”
The tray with all the hair ornaments and hairpins had been laid to the side a long time ago. The voice of the person asking the question was so low that in this quiet room, it did not seem abrupt. Instead, it blended in nicely.
“I’ll let you decide,” the woman answered indifferently.
Having received a reply, he started working. The way those deft hands used the hairpins and placed the ornaments seemed to be very practiced, so not long later, the hair that was originally loose had been bound in a regal and magnificent manner. After that, he kept the remaining tools and prepared to take his leave.
“Lord Ling, my clothes.”
He had just finished returning the tools to their places, and was about to bid her farewell when the woman’s simple words make him change what he was about to say.
“Yes, your majesty.”
He walked toward the cabinet with Chinese clothing and accessories hung on it, then started to select clothes suitable for her hairstyle.
Logically speaking, if one wanted to change clothes and hairstyle at the same time, the clothes should be selected before one’s hair was combed and tied. However, since the woman only made her request now, he had no choice but to change the sequence and choose clothes to go with her hair instead.
After that, her makeup would have to be reapplied.
He brought her a long-sleeved silk dress and removed her original clothes when she moved into a standing position. Then, he helped her put the new dress on and started buttoning it carefully and meticulously starting from her chest down.
No matter whether he was adjusting her clothes, tying a ribbon around her waist, or holding up her arms to make sure that her sleeves were tucked in properly, he had absolutely no perverted thoughts in mind.
“Who is leading the escort team this time?”
She rarely cared about the internal affairs of the city, so naturally she also wouldn’t pay any attention as to whose turn it was to lead the escort. Even now, she was just asking it for the sake of asking.
“Lord Luo,” Lord Ling said as he carried the makeup tray over. He knew that she was not in a very good mood today, so as expected, the woman did not continue asking any further.
Perhaps it was because she wasn’t in the best of moods that she randomly chose a topic to talk with him about.
Even if he knew how she felt, Lord Ling still would not try comforting her with his words, or do something more considerate than usual.
This is because she didn’t need him to. Compared to being comforted, what she needed more was for her poor mood to go unnoticed by others.
This was the result of her pride. She would not allow any of her imperfections to show, so she hated others finding out about her weakness and responding in kind.
The room was silent once more. He used a wet cloth to remove her original makeup, then picked up a red makeup brush to add a little color to the calm and composed, but pale, face.
Her skin was as smooth as porcelain and so flawless that there was no need to apply any powder. At most, he could add a hint of red to her cheeks to make her look healthier, but she usually didn’t like this. Hence, he just put makeup on her eyes and lips.
After putting on the makeup, she looked every bit the arrogant and cold Empress of East City.
Prouder than anyone else, more regal than anyone else, more determined than anyone else –– She who was without equal.
“Has Lord Yin returned?”
After he had applied the last bit of color to her lips, she spoke again, asking this question.
“No, he hasn’t. Isn’t it too soon for him to come back?”
At this moment in time, he was unsure what kind of answer she wanted to hear.
But that person, let’s not call him ‘that guy’ or ‘that idiot’… Even if he had completed his mission, he may not return immediately afterwards. There were always so many things that could distract him during his journey, and so many things that can become a reason (reason, not excuse) for him to waste his time.
“When he returns, ask him to see me.”
“Yes, your majesty.”
After listening to her orders, he nodded. This time, she did not stop him from leaving. The woman made no further requests, and did not even look at him, so he left her room quietly.
After he had gone quite a distance down the corridor, the communication charm he carried around with him suddenly rang.
Feeling a premonition of impending trouble, he picked up the call.
After the passage of the Sunken Moon and the migrants appeared, both East City and West City established a life-support system for these migrants –– the pool.
It was called a pool, but actually, it was not small at all. It was even deep enough to pole boats11. Also, it would take quite a bit of time to swim along the circumference of the pool. It was large enough to be a lake, but nonetheless, it was called a pool, because that was what it was called at the beginning, a long time ago. There was no other reason to continue calling it a pool, but no one had ever felt the need to change it.
The pool was directly linked to the power of the Sunken Moon, and had the same ability to create bodies for souls as the passage of the Sunken Moon. The moment a migrant dies, his soul will be teleported to the bottom of the pool, where his body is recreated and then floated to the surface so that he will once again have a perfectly healthy body.
At the moment, the power of the Sunken Moon at the bottom of the pool was in operation. The physical appearance of the young man the soul belonged to gradually became clearer. When the body and soul were fully integrated, he opened his eyes. In that instant, those blue eyes still seemed to be filled with the despair and reluctance of death.
When he discovered that he was in the water and noticed that he could not breathe, he quickly made his decision. Kicking his legs and moving his arms, he swam towards the surface.
The feeling of his naked body in contact with freezing cold water was, of course, not comfortable at all. It chilled him to the bone, and along with the unexplained fear he felt, it was extremely difficult for him to adjust to his situation.
Coming out of the water to meet the cold night air, his wet golden hair that should have been dazzling was plastered to his face and neck. He raised his youthful and handsome face and looked at the distant moon.
Under the weak moonlight, he looked down at his ten fingers, then looked at the scenery around the edge of the pool. The conclusion that he reached using this knowledge shocked him speechless.
After a good long while, in this deserted place, with the clear and high-pitched voice of an adolescent boy, he asked himself dreamily, “This place is… Night’s End?”
1 Lord Hui: 晖侍 (huī shì) in Chinese. 晖 means ‘sunlight’. More will be explained in footnote 3.
2 Lord Luo: 珞侍 (luò shì) in Chinese. His title is part of a phrase, 璎珞 (yīng luò), which means ‘jade necklace’.
3 Tassel: A person’s strength is indicated by the color of his tassel. From weakest to strongest: white, green, blue, red, purple, black.
4 Lord: Actually, 侍 (shì) means ‘servant’. But these 侍 serve the Empress directly and are the highest ranking people in East City, so I called them ‘lord’, which makes more sense in English.
5 Lord Yin: 音侍 (yīn shì) in Chinese. 音 means sound.
6 Lord Ling: 綾侍 (líng shì) in Chinese. 綾 means ‘a silk fabric resembling satin but thinner; damask silk’.
7 Fantasia: 幻世 (huàn shì) in Chinese. 幻 means ‘illusion’, ‘unreal’, or ‘fantasy’, while 世 means ‘world’. So this world is actually called ‘Fantasy World’, which I translated as ‘Fantasia’.
8 The sorcery of East City and the magic of Fallen Moon: East City: 术法 (shù fǎ, lit. magic) Fallen Moon: 魔法 (mó fǎ, lit. magic). Both words mean magic! *headache* In order to differentiate the terms, I shall use the ‘sorcery’ for East City and ‘magic’ for Fallen Moon, since East City has an Asian theme and Fallen Moon has a Western theme.
10 Empress: In keeping with the Asian theme for East City, I shall use Empress instead of Queen.
11 Pole boats: Using a long pole to propel a boat.