Eclipse Hunter Volume 2: Having Friends, Having Feelings
Original novel in Chinese by: 御我(Yu Wo)
Chapter Four: A Distant Figure—translated by Trespasserby (proofread by Faren & J Tao; C/E edited by lucathia)
Ri Xiang Ye was extremely glad that he had come to this place as Dark Sun.
This “arena” had likely been something like a sports stadium in the past, with a round field and amphitheater-like seats. It was just that the circular field was now overgrown with weeds, and the concrete, step-like seats had many cracks. The place looked more like an abandoned sports field than an arena.
However, this place had a lively air that didn’t seem to match its abandoned state.
The seats were filled with crowds of people, all of them dressed bizarrely. There were hairstyles even more eye-catching than Ezart’s red-orange hedgehog head of hair. The crowds yelled fanatically and fought against each other. There were even quite a few who had already drawn blood.
Ri Xiang Ye was crammed among these people. He wasn’t very happy with this. In the past, whenever he had gone shopping with his innocent appearance, it was people dressed like those currently surrounding him who had bullied him and even robbed his bag.
Thus, he was very keen on finding Ezart quickly, making sure he was okay, giving him his dinner, and leaving right away.
In this packed, noisy mass of people, though, he almost couldn’t even make out what the people next to him were saying. In addition, aside from the somewhat lit arena, the whole area was extremely dark. It wasn’t at all a good place to try to find someone.
Ri Xiang Ye was beginning to doubt that he would be able to find Ezart, even if he searched the entire night.
“But I bought sushi to give to Ezart for dinner.” Ri Xiang Ye was a bit disappointed. He was worried that he wouldn’t be able to give the sushi to Ezart for dinner and cheer him on while handing it over.
“Or maybe I can wait until he’s done fighting and give it to him as a midnight snack?”
He felt like this also was a good idea. Anyway, with Ezart’s personality, wishing him good luck seemed a bit unnecessary. He might as well just wait for Ezart to finish fighting, when he would be hungry, to give him the food.
Since he had decided to give the sushi to Ezart as a midnight snack, Ri Xiang Ye quietly waited for him to enter the arena. Then, after Ezart won, Ri Xiang Ye would give him the midnight snack to eat.
He believed Ezart was so strong that it shouldn’t be possible for him to lose.
The event organizers probably knew they couldn’t let the people out there, who had absolutely zero patience and only knew how to stir up trouble, wait for too long. At this moment, an announcer wearing bright yellow clothes jumped into the arena and gave a throat-tearing shout, whipping the already lively atmosphere into a frenzy.
With this sort of feverish atmosphere, there were many times when Ri Xiang Ye had to narrowly avoid being hit by the wildly flailing fists of the people around him.
Although he used his extraordinary reflexes to dodge the hits one after another, it was really much too crowded. No matter where he went, shoulders were rubbing up against other shoulders. This wasn’t a good thing for Ri Xiang Ye’s abnormally vigilant state of mind. Every time he brushed past a person, he would warily judge whether the other person intended to attack or not, leaving him extremely on edge. It was exhausting.
Maybe moving a bit farther away would be better!
Ri Xiang Ye desperately tried to squeeze outward, but after he had pushed himself halfway through, he heard the announcer introduce the newcomer in the red corner—“the King of Might, his accomplishments are…”
Ri Xiang Ye immediately looked back, trying to see if the King of Might was really Ezart or not.
Red corner, where’s the red corner… There! The person sitting in the red corner… Was wearing a full face mask.
Ri Xiang Ye didn’t know if he should laugh or cry. How was he supposed to tell if that was Ezart or not? If it wasn’t Ezart, then hadn’t he come here and waited for nothing?
That’s right! As soon as I see that person’s fighting style, I can determine whether it’s Ezart or not.
With that thought in mind, Ri Xiang Ye turned around and pressed back toward the arena. He would be able to make a better determination from a closer distance.
Ri Xiang Ye hadn’t even reached the front yet, and the fight had already started heating up.
Although the person in the red corner was called the King of Might, the person in the opposite corner was even more muscular. The muscles all over his body were like small mountains.
Unlike the King of Might who was wearing an ordinary shirt and jeans, the opponent was wearing a skintight outfit which made the muscles all over his body plainly visible. In addition, he shouted repeatedly and showed off his muscles. No matter whether he could actually defeat the King of Might or not, at the very least, when it came to looking dangerous, he had the King of Might beat.
While the chap with the muscles was showing them off, the King of Might did absolutely nothing and just lazily stood there. It was like he was a part of the audience, rather than someone fighting in the arena.
His actions seemed to irritate the audience, and a lot of people threw whatever they had on hand at the arena. They were all aiming for where the King of Might was.
“Ah, don’t throw things.”
When he saw this, Ri Xiang Ye inwardly became anxious. It was very likely that the King of Might was his friend Ezart!
Ah! You’re still throwing things!
Seeing that the person next to him was even about to throw a banana peel, Ri Xiang Ye angrily raised his hand and sneakily smacked the person on the back of the head. By the time the person bellowed in pain, “Who did that?” Ri Xiang Ye’s head had already turned away in guilt. Luckily, it was too crowded, and his movements were too fast, so the person was left with no idea who the “head-smacking culprit” was.
Having felt that he had taken revenge for Ezart, Ri Xiang Ye could now happily go back to watching the battle on stage.
At this point in time, the muscled man seemed to have finally satisfied his desire to show off his muscles and began taunting the King of Might. One moment he was sticking his tongue out and showing off his tongue ring, the next he had turned around and begun slapping his butt at the King of Might.
Seeing this, the King of Might didn’t say anything and just sent an explosive punch his way. The muscled man began laughing with mockery and malice. As he laughed, he sidestepped and easily dodged.
The spectators also began booing, extremely disappointed in the King of Might’s fist missing its target.
“Huh? Why’d he miss on purpose?”
Only Ri Xiang Ye was looking perplexed. He didn’t understand why the King of Might… No! It was Ezart. Why had he purposefully missed?
That’s right. Ri Xiang Ye had already recognized from that punch and posture that it really was Ezart. In fact, the lazy way he had been standing at the beginning had been Ezart’s unique way of standing!
Also, he had seen the muscled man’s dodging speed. There was no way Ezart could have missed.
The muscled man began guffawing and mocked Ezart incessantly. Even the audience around the stage was booing and shouting. Faced with such a scene, Ezart still remained lazy and gangster-like, not seeming to care in the least about everyone mocking him.
Slowly, a few people stopped shouting and froze in surprise. More and more people followed suit. In the end, everyone was silent. They all stared at the muscled man’s left cheek.
A horizontal line of blood had appeared on the muscled man’s cheek. At first, no one understood why. How could he be bleeding all of a sudden if he hadn’t even fought?
They recalled that the single instance of fighting earlier was only the one punch from the King of Might. But that punch hadn’t even landed on target and had swung past his cheek… Past his cheek!
Taking a closer look at it, wasn’t the location and shape of the line of blood exactly where the fist had flown past?!
Could it be that just whooshing past his cheek had this kind of effect?
At that moment, the muscled man finally also realized something was wrong. After he wiped his hand across his face, he was initially alarmed by his bloodied hand. Then a trace of fear flashed through his eyes as he lifted his head and locked his gaze on the King of Might. He froze in place. He was beginning to wonder if it was worth risking his life for the prize money.
With his eyesight, Ri Xiang Ye was even able to make out the wobbling of the so-called champion’s legs.
Ezart really deserved to be called Yelan Academy’s god of destruction. The wind from a punch he had randomly thrown could slice open his opponent’s cheek. This kind of strength was horrifying.
Even the spectators who were used to watching fighting matches were aghast. The booing from earlier had disappeared without a trace. There were also many people who had originally intended to throw banana peels and tomatoes on stage that were now locked in place.
When Ezart’s eyes emotionlessly swept toward them, quite a few people smiled embarrassedly and lowered the various fruits in their hands that they had been preparing to hurl. Following that, they took a bite out of the rotten tomatoes and banana peels in their hands and contorted their faces into smiles that said, “This rotten tomato sure is good.”
Seeing the person he had hit on the head smiling bitterly as he ate his banana peel, Ri Xiang Ye couldn’t help letting out a “pfft” of laughter. He was extremely happy for Ezart.
Ri Xiang Ye’s original reason for coming here was mostly that he was worried for Ezart’s safety. However, he had actually been overthinking things. How could an ordinary person compete against someone from a combat academy? Let alone, against the god of destruction feared by ninety percent of the combat academy’s students!
Only a cyborg like Ri Xiang Ye would consider someone as strong as Ezart weak enough to worry over.
“For now, I’ll head to the back to wait for Ezart !”
As soon as he had stopped worrying about Ezart, Ri Xiang Ye squeezed himself out of the crowd. He was extremely glad he could leave that place with its terrible atmosphere and clamorous din, not to mention the way it had strained his reflexes. But the main reason he had left early was that he was in a hurry to change back to Ri Xiang Ye’s appearance before Ezart won.
As for Ezart’s win… It probably wouldn’t even take a single minute.
The King of Might’s ferocious punch sent the champion out of the arena, and even took down and injured several innocent audience members with him. They groaned as they were crushed.
Seeing the unconscious “champion” beneath him, the King of Might coldly threw out a single line, “What a boring fight.”
Then, he ruthlessly turned around and got down from the stage. Along the way, not a single person dared to draw breath.
He walked back to the abandoned arena’s lobby and tore off the mask with a single pull, revealing the dragon tattoo on his face and his bright, red-orange, hedgehog hair. As expected, the King of Might was Ezart himself.
He impatiently tossed the mask into a corner. The cheap, unbreathable thing made his face itch.
At this moment, the rusting, steel lobby doors let out a creaking noise. A bald man grinning from ear to ear appeared from behind them. As soon as he came in, he gave a thumbs up and said with admiration, “You did great! I knew I didn’t pick the wrong guy!”
Ezart idly glanced at the bald man. The last time he had given Ezart the money, he had even thrown at him. Had the bald man decided to sing a different tune now?
“The money?” He said, not beating around the bush.
Ezart rudely stuck his hand out, asking for the money. The bald man silently cursed a few times, but on the surface, he obsequiously hurried to pull out a wad of cash.
“Here it is! Here it is!”
He had no choice but to act this humbly. The strength Ezart had shown tonight had not only opened the audience’s eyes to what true power was; at the same time, it had alerted the bald man that a few gun-toting bodyguards weren’t enough to stop the god of destruction in front of him.
This both scared and delighted the bald man. He was terrified that he couldn’t bend the person in front of him to his will, but was nevertheless happy to have a frighteningly powerful champion in his possession. For someone running a fighting arena, it was the same as having money grow on trees.
Ezart snatched the wad of cash. He didn’t even count it before he put it in his pocket and said, “When’s the next fight?”
“Ah, that. We still have to discuss it…”
The bald man felt some regret looking at that wad of cash. He had given away ten percent more than the amount they had agreed on. To keep a new champion like Ezart, though, a sum that small wasn’t much. He was already scheming what sort of gimmick to have in place during Ezart’s next match to get the audience even more hyped up.
“Call me when you decide.”
Ezart didn’t have the patience to discuss it. He picked his jacket up from the side after tossing out that sentence. Then, he pushed open the creaky, rusty steel doors and left without further ado.
Before he shut the steel doors, Ezart seemed to faintly make out the bald man quietly cursing, “F***! What was that, treating me like that…”
But, he didn’t have the patience to head back to give the damn baldy a beating, and find a new manager afterward. In any case, for someone known as Yelan Academy’s god of destruction, it wasn’t like there weren’t enough people cursing behind his back.
Even that idiot Ri Xiang Ye, who couldn’t be any stupider, has probably cursed me behind my back more than once. It’s not like I’ve held back with the scowls I’ve given that nerd, Ezart coldly thought.
He knew that everyone called him the god of destruction behind his back, but he didn’t know what that particular idiot had been saying while his back was turned. Violent maniac? God of destruction? Muscle for brains…
Ezart’s expression suddenly stiffened, and he stopped in his tracks. Did he seem to have heard that idiot calling him? Was he hallucinating?
How could that nerd be hanging around outside in the middle of the night? There’s no way a model student like him would have anything to do with this sort of messed up place… Not a…
“Ezart! This is great. I thought I’d missed you!” Ri Xiang Ye was smiling foolishly. He frantically waved as he ran toward Ezart.
Ezart wordlessly watched a model student who didn’t fit in at all with his surroundings come bounding over to him. He even brought with him a brilliant smile and exaggerated wave, making Ezart want to… beat him up!
“You were amazing just now, Ezart!” Ri Xiang Ye smiled brilliantly as he ran up to Ezart.
You went over to watch the fight? And the nice, charitable fellows over there didn’t beat you to pulp that even your brother wouldn’t recognize? Ezart thought in disbelief.
“Right!” Ri Xiang Ye rummaged in his backpack, smiling happily as he pulled out a large box. “Look, I even brought you a midnight snack! It was supposed to be your dinner, but I came too late and you were already onstage, so I can only give it to you as a midnight snack. I also bought one for myself, so we can eat together—”
“Why the hell are you here?” Ezart cut him off.
“To give you something to eat and cheer you on!” As Ri Xiang Ye explained, he also opened the box of sushi. He worriedly looked at the sushi. It hasn’t gone bad yet, I think?
“How did you know I was here?” Ezart frowned. I don’t remember telling him where the arena is?
“I saw it on a flyer while I was buying dinner.”
A flyer wouldn’t have my real name, right? You could guess it was me from the three words ‘King of Might?’ Ezart really didn’t know whether he was unlucky or whether Ri Xiang Ye had the devil’s luck. This couldn’t have been the only place holding fighting matches, yet he had just so happened to find the right one.
“Do you want to eat dinner together?” Ri Xiang Ye gingerly asked Ezart while looking at him. He doesn’t look very happy. This made Ri Xiang Ye feel a bit nervous.
Ezart just scratched his head and grunted, his show of agreement.
Not too long afterwards, two people sat at a roadside vendor’s stall eating barbecue. The sushi had indeed gone bad from being left out too long.
Ezart had only taken a single bite, and the putrid smell had already traveled up into his brain. After that, he immediately punched Ri Xiang Ye. The idiot had already stuffed his face full of sushi and was completely oblivious to the fact that the things in his mouth were no longer edible. It was this punch that made him spit out the food in his mouth in time.
“Idiot,” Ezart said as he snatched away the piece of meat Ri Xiang Ye had held.
“Hm?” Ri Xiang Ye, who had his meat taken away, froze. Then, he switched to taking the shiitake mushrooms, the only things left on the barbecue grill.
Really stupid… Ezart was speechless.
“In the future, don’t come to the arena to find me. Otherwise, if one of these days someone puts you six feet under, I’ll even have to dig you up to bring your body back to your bro.”
The more he looked at Ri Xiang Ye’s foolish appearance, the more Ezart felt it—if this guy kept going out at night to these arenas populated by shady folk, he wouldn’t even last a few days before he would be mugged or beaten up by a gang. Afterward, if he weren’t buried on an abandoned hillside, then he would have been sunken in some unknown bay.
Ri Xiang Ye currently had three shiitake slices in his mouth. Although he didn’t understand why going to watch the match would cause people to put him in the ground, the mouthful of food left him incapable of opening his mouth to ask questions, so he could only nod.
But then, he rethought. If I don’t go to watch the matches, I can’t eat midnight snacks together with Ezart like this.
He hastily swallowed the food in his mouth and then anxiously said, “B-But I still want to eat midnight snacks.”
Ezart rolled his eyes and growled, “You’re an idiot! Can’t you eat midnight snacks on your own or with your brother? You have money anyway. Go to some fancier place to eat and save yourself the trouble!”
“I want to eat midnight snacks with Gēge, but I also want to eat midnight snacks with you!” Ri Xiang Ye was a little dejected. They had just been eating so happily that he thought Ezart liked eating together with him.
Ezart’s face went rigid. Is this brat for real? He’s already under my protection. There’s no need for him to suck up to me this much, right?
But seeing that Ri Xiang Ye was becoming more and more dejected, to the point where he wasn’t eating much… Of course, compared to a normal person’s food intake, the amount he was putting on his plate definitely couldn’t be called “not eating much.” However, Ezart was familiar with the amount and speed at which Ri Xiang Ye normally ate. This could already be considered “a loss of appetite.”
The two of them ate dispiritedly for a while. Ezart said with deliberate casualness, “You don’t have to come to the arena to eat midnight snacks with me. Can’t you just tell me, ‘Let’s go eat midnight snacks tonight?’”
“Huh?” Ri Xiang Ye suddenly lifted his head up and blurted, “You mean I can ask you to go eat midnight snacks?”
Ezart made a noise of agreement as his reply.
Ri Xiang Ye was beaming with joy. He and Ezart went to school with each other and would now eat midnight snacks together too. They had to be best friends, right? He had finally made a best friend!
Thinking of that, his appetite finally came back. He cheerfully tossed the raw meat on his plate down onto the barbeque grill all in one go. A few minutes later, he ate the savory meat all in one go as well.
“You sure can eat. You’re not getting any flabbier even after eating so much. I have no idea where you’re putting it. What a waste of money! You’ve almost eaten all my winnings!” Ezart grumpily said.
Ri Xiang Ye only had the credit card that his brother gave him. The credit card had the ability to withdraw money, but he had never used it to withdraw money before. Basically, he had already forgotten that the card had that sort of function. This sort of roadside stall naturally wouldn’t accept credit cards either, so the responsibility to foot the bill fell to Ezart.
“Ah… You don’t have any money?”
Ri Xiang Ye blurted out without thinking. He was completely unaware that after he said those words, the owner of the roadside stall immediately shot them an extremely unfriendly glare.
Ezart rolled his eyes. He knew Ri Xiang Ye was once again treating what everyone else would have known was just complaining as actual fact. To get the owner to stop glaring murderously, he loudly and irritably replied, “You’re such an idiot. How could you really eat up all my winnings? I didn’t actually mean it.”
“Oh!” Ri Xiang Ye relaxed and then ate with even less restraint.
The corner of Ezart’s mouth twitched upward when he saw that. He thought to himself, Is this guy the reincarnation of someone who starved to death? I have no idea how his bro’s managed to feed him this long without going bankrupt.
“Ezart, you must really like battling a lot if you even go battle in the arena after school.” Ri Xiang Ye made small talk as he ate.
“Going up against those weaklings can’t be called battling, just getting into a scuffle. No! It’s just pummeling,” Ezart contemptuously said.
“Since you don’t like it, why do you keep fighting in the arena?” Ri Xiang Ye didn’t understand at all.
“Didn’t I already tell you?” As soon as Ezart saw the blank look in Ri Xiang Ye’s eyes, he knew Ri Xiang Ye had completely forgotten. He grudgingly explained again, “I have to get money so that I can eat. Get it yet?! Otherwise, I’m not so bored that I’d go fight in the arena against that trash. Even grabbing someone to beat up at school would be more satisfying!”
“Because you need money, you go even though you don’t want to?” Ri Xiang Ye didn’t fully understand yet.
He had been locked in a lab since he was seven and had been pampered by the world’s most powerful figure, the Sun Emperor, since he was let out. He basically had no idea what money stood for and naturally even less of an idea of the importance of earning money.
“Well, yeah! Or what, you’ll pay for my tuition and food?”
After Ri Xiang Ye exposed Ezart’s thoughts so directly, even someone like Ezart who already understood Ri Xiang Ye’s foolish personality could only shout back in frustration.
“Sure.” Ri Xiang Ye nodded. “If I give you money, you won’t have to fight battles you don’t like.”
Ezart was shocked. He frowned as he asked, “What are you even saying? Don’t joke with me.”
“I’m not joking. Gēge gives me a lot of money. I’ll give you some, and you won’t have to fight in an arena you don’t like.”
From his simple point of view, his brother gave him a lot of money anyway, and his brother had also said to buy whatever he wanted. If he didn’t have enough money, then he would just have to call his brother, and his brother would immediately dispatch someone to “purchase” it.
But what Ri Xiang Ye didn’t know was that the highest level Sun Bank credit card had no upper limit. If something couldn’t be bought with a card with unlimited credit, it meant that money wasn’t the issue. The dispatching of someone to make a “purchase,” as previously mentioned, would more accurately be described as dispatching heavily armed troops to throw down a check and take it by force, regardless of whether the person was willing to sell or not!
With Ri Xiang Ye’s simple way of thinking, Ezart had treated him to a meal twice, so he could naturally also give Ezart money and Ezart wouldn’t have to fight battles he didn’t want to.
But he didn’t understand that to most people, treating your friends to a meal and directly giving your friends money were two completely different things. In addition, with such a huge wealth disparity between the two of them, it was even more taboo.
Ezart’s expression grew cold. He was still unable to tell what Ri Xiang Ye’s intentions were. Was he really that stupid? So stupid that he didn’t understand that friends didn’t give each other money?
No way. There’s no way he’s that stupid.
So Ri Xiang Ye wants to “repay” me for the protection and guarantee he’ll keep getting protection while he’s at it!
Hmph! He’s no different from the rest of them. If he can’t beat them, then he’ll pay people to bend the knee?
Ezart sneered. He had plenty of people try to pay him for protection before. As soon as he met them, he showed them no mercy and was unsatisfied until he sent them to the hospital with heavy injuries. This was why he had always stayed out of things, and also the reason he had the title “god of destruction.”
He hadn’t raised his hand against Ri Xiang Ye yet only because he still harbored some doubts. Was Ri Xiang Ye really the kind of person to pay people for protection?
It was hard to believe that this guy, who came to hand over midnight snacks in the middle of the night while even letting the snacks spoil, had the brains to do that!
“Ezart, can credit cards be used to pay tuition?”
Ri Xiang Ye didn’t really know, because he didn’t pay for his tuition himself. If it didn’t work, then he would have to find his brother. Seeing that Ezart’s expression was growing unsightly, he thought that it was because he couldn’t pay with a credit card, and hastily added, “Don’t worry. If I can’t use the credit card, I’ll just talk to Gēge. Gēge will pay for your tuition!”
Without a word, Ezart ruthlessly threw his eating utensils at the table. The pair of chopsticks actually got stuck in the table, the ends still quivering. The people around them were staring and unable to look away, especially the owner, whose eyes were wide. He was deeply thankful that he hadn’t gone over to demand payment for the food earlier, or this pair of chopsticks would probably have gotten stuck in his body!
“Ezart, what’s wrong?” Ri Xiang Ye timidly asked.
Ezart abruptly stood up and icily said, “I might be poor, but I’m not so poor I’d beg from my own classmate!”
Once he finished speaking, he ignored the pile of food still on the table and walked toward the owner, who had initially been busy slicing meat but was currently blankly staring at the sight of the chopsticks stuck in the table. When the owner saw that the person who had caused the unbelievable sight was walking toward him, his face turned the same color as the meat he had just taken out of the freezer.
Ezart pulled out a fistful of bills and forcefully threw them onto the owner’s cutting board. He coldly said, “Keep the change.”
“W-Wait, Ezart.” Ri Xiang Ye had only just reacted. He hastily stood up.
Ezart stopped. He didn’t even turn his head back as he threw down the words, “From now on, we walk on our own to and from school. Don’t bother talking to me. I won’t answer you.”
He finished speaking, stuck his hands in his pockets, and stalked away hunched over.
Ri Xiang Ye was frozen where he stood.
How had this happened?
He didn’t understand.
Why? Hadn’t we become good friends who go to school and eat midnight snacks together? Why is Ezart angry? And he doesn’t want me to talk to him in the future… We can’t go to school together. We can’t… Eat midnight snacks together.
“I don’t want that!”
Ri Xiang Ye’s hands were balled into fists as he shouted at Ezart’s departing figure.
The figure, with its hands in its pockets and back hunched over, stopped for a moment.
Seeing that Ezart had paused, Ri Xiang Ye quickly shouted, “Aren’t we best friends?”
The wind blew a sentence over from where the figure was.
“We never were.”
An Te Qi crawled out from his lab. He had originally planned to find Ah Ye and ask him to make some instant noodles for him, but after he had dragged his body, nearly starved to death, through every room, he finally realized that Ah Ye wasn’t actually at home!
An Te Qi looked lifelessly at the clock. It was already four in the morning. Ah Ye isn’t home even at this hour?
“Could it be that he’s finally become…” An intense look appeared in An Te Qi’s eyes, and he slowly choked out, “A true teenager?”
That’s right. Ri Xiang Ye obediently came back every day to eat dinner, went to bed at ten every night, and then woke up at five in the morning the next day. This behavior wasn’t normal for a teenager!
No! No one below the age of sixty acted like that!
Only someone like Ri Xiang Yan who lived in the past century would think the way his little brother lived was normal for a teenager!
However, Ri Xiang Yan himself was clearly someone who would still be up even in the middle of the night, and relied on an extremely strong cup of black coffee to wake him up in the morning. His clothes were the cutting edge of fashion, and his hair was also so trendy it was unbearable. It was a mystery why he let his little brother live like a sixty year old man whose clothes were even from the previous century.
“Anyway, there’ll come a day when I finally understand this riddle… But if I don’t make some instant noodles right now to avoid starving to death, then I’ll never know.”
The rumbling of his stomach along with his limbs growing weak from hunger alerted An Te Qi that if he didn’t replenish his calories, then it was very likely he would only be able to go to hell to ask the Grim Reaper this riddle for the ages.
Tearing open a bowl of instant noodles of an unknown flavor, he cracked a few eggs, eggshells included, into the instant noodle bowl. Upon seeing his mistake, An Te Qi consoled himself that eggshells were a good source of calcium anyway. Then he dumped in the hot water.
Although the cover clearly stated that he had to wait three minutes before the noodles could be eaten, when, in his hunger, he saw a hazy, black-robed figure before him, holding a scythe, he could barely wait thirty seconds before ripping off the instant noodle cover and noisily slurping down the somewhat stiff noodles and half cooked eggs.
He clearly didn’t understand the meaning of the word “scalding” and ate the entire bowl of instant noodles, including the soup, in under a minute. Only then did he feel like he had come back to life.
His life was no longer in jeopardy, but his belly still wasn’t satisfied. He decided to make another bowl of noodles to compensate his stomach for the many meals it had missed. This time, he resolved to not add eggshell fragments into the bowl of noodles, and definitely wait patiently for three minutes… Damn, uncooked noodles and eggs are really disgusting!
As An Te Qi sat in the living room, impatiently awaiting his second “delicious” bowl of noodles, the sound of keys being inserted and turning in the lock came from the door. An Te Qi turned his head to look… He suddenly had a feeling of foreboding…
Is the one who came back home the younger brother or the older brother?
If the person who had come back was the older brother, Ri Xiang Yan, he would find out that his precious darling of a little brother wasn’t back even though it was four or five in the morning, and that the guy who was supposed to be looking after Ah Ye was in the living room eating instant noodles… That said, didn’t Ah Ye say something about Ri Xiang Yan giving me a lot of things to do?
Thinking this, An Te Qi tore open the bowl of noodles. Although he had only waited a minute and a half, he knew that Ri Xiang Yan wasn’t kindhearted enough to wait for him to finish eating his instant noodles before shooting him.
No, even if I’m about to die, I want to finish my noodles first!
The man whose death was drawing near slurped his noodles with everything he had. When his lips were so scalded they were even about to blister, he saw a head of silver hair out of the corner of his eye … It’s the younger brother, Ah Ye!
Sob sob sob! My life is safe. Luckily, I can continue doing experiments!
An Te Qi immediately released the noodles in his mouth. Then, better than having nothing, he replaced the lid and continued to wait for the remaining one and a half minutes.
“So it was Ah Ye! You really scared me to death. I thought that this day next year would be the anniversary of my death. Dying isn’t much, but no one would complete my experiments. That’d be the real tragedy…”
An Te Qi crouched next to the short dining table, muttering as he stared at his instant noodles.
Ri Xiang Ye seemed to walk over from behind him. His hand moved past An Te Qi’s shoulder and placed a plastic bag down on the short table. Inside were many boxes of food.
“What is this?”
An Te Qi acutely picked up on what seemed to be the delicious smell of food. He quickly opened a box of food and let out a cheer. There was a bunch of barbecue inside, causing him to immediately abandon the instant noodles and begin attacking the barbecued meat.
“Ah Ye, did yuh come back sho late becaushe yuh went to eat barbecue? Wiv who? The fwend you menshoned befwore?”
An Te Qi’s mouth was full of food. He asked this carelessly, but when he didn’t receive any sort of response, he felt that something was a bit strange. He recalled that Ah Ye would normally loudly call out, “I’m home” as soon as he came back. Furthermore, when he saw Ri Xiang Yan, he would immediately shout, “Gēge,” and when he saw An Te Qi, he would immediately shout, “An Te Qi-bàba.” No matter who he called out to, his tone would always be cheerful.
But just now, An Te Qi hadn’t heard a single peep.
An Te Qi felt something wasn’t right. He suddenly lifted his head to look, only seeing that Ri Xiang Ye’s back was currently facing him, as he was about to head up to the upper floor.
He asked somewhat suspiciously, “Ah Ye? What’s going on?”
Ri Xiang Ye trembled for a moment. Then he forcefully shook his head and said, “Nothing.”
As if it’s nothing! An Te Qi frowned. He chewed his full mouth of barbecue while walking toward the stairs.
He placed both hands on Ri Xiang Ye’s shoulders. Even though his mouth was still full of food, An Te Qi tried to say in his clearest and tenderest voice, “What’s wrong, Ah Ye? Tell An Te Qi… Tell ‘Bàba’ about it, O.K.?”
Ri Xiang Ye’s shoulders shook. Then he nodded and slowly turned around.
An Te Qi’s jaw dropped, letting all of the well-chewed, almost-ready-to-swallow, barbecued meat that was going to replenish his calories drop to the floor.
What shocked him this much was that on Ri Xiang Ye’s face… Were two lines of tears.
“W-Wha… What happened? Who bullied you? Who could even bully you? It’s not possible. Your powerful body was the work of my own scalpel… No, no. That’s not what’s important.”
After An Te Qi stammered out nonsense for a while, he viciously pinched his own thigh. The pain finally sobered him up.
He took several deep breaths. He used his sleeve to wipe away the tears on Ah Ye’s cheeks as he seriously and concernedly asked, “Ah Ye, did something happen? Tell An Te Qi-bàba, O.K.?”
Ri Xiang Ye nodded forcefully.
“I-I went to see Ezart’s arena fight, but the midnight snacks I gave him were spoiled, so we went to barbecue, but E-Ezart stuck his chopsticks in the table and isn’t friends with me anymore. I-I thought we were b-best friends…”
Ri Xiang Ye’s head drooped, and he said, brokenhearted, “He said we never were and didn’t want me to ever talk to him again.”
What a convoluted story! An Te Qi did his best to suppress the look of doubt in his eyes and put on an expression of “understanding.”
Aiya! So basically, there’s a person called Ezart who doesn’t want to be friends with Ah Ye.
An Te Qi tried to remember the gentlest tone of voice he had… No matter what, he could only think of the tone of voice he would use to pick up hot babes. This is bad!
In the end, he could only soften his voice to say, “It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t want to be friends with you. You still have a lot of other classmates who could be your friends, right?”
Ri Xiang Ye lowered his head and said in a small voice, “Everyone ignores me. Everyone hates me. Only Ezart didn’t hate me. But now… I thought we were best friends. Why is he angry all of a sudden?”
Don’t look at me expectantly. Even your god-like brother wouldn’t know the reason why from your mess of a narrative! An Te Qi silently wailed in anguish.
But Ri Xiang Ye’s expectant gaze and pitiful expression left him unable to truthfully say, “I have no idea, don’t ask me!”
An Te Qi could only spout random nonsense. “Uh, maybe it’s just a small argument between friends? Friends often have some misunderstandings and squabbles. Apologizing should fix things.”
“R-Really?” Ri Xiang Ye suddenly lifted his head. His originally teary eyes seemed to light up.
“Yeah…” Should be? An Te Qi could only force a smile.
Whatever had happened, An Te Qi could only hope that this Ezart guy had some tact and would quickly forgive Ah Ye. Otherwise, if Ri Xiang Yan saw Ah Ye crying, who knew what that bro-con would do?
He might even throw every person named Ezart in the world into an incinerator.
Ri Xiang Ye wiped away his tears. So that’s how it is. All friends argue? Although he didn’t understand why Ezart was angry, maybe it was only because all friends needed to argue with each other, so he got angry. That way we can argue?
“Then, I’ll apologize to Ezart later!”
Ri Xiang Ye looked at the clock. It was already 5:15 in the morning. He would be heading to school in a bit and where he could also apologize to Ezart. Then, they could continue being best friends!
Thinking this, he simply couldn’t wait, wishing he could immediately rush out the door and go to school.
I hope nothing goes wrong. An Te Qi looked at how happy Ah Ye was and felt faintly uneasy.
“How about I take you to school today?”
It was highly unusual for An Te Qi, who stayed in his lab all day long, to actively offer to take Ah Ye to school. I’ll consider it as putting in some effort to ensure world peace! A single drop of Ah Ye’s tears is currently scarier than a nuclear bomb.
“No.” Ri Xiang Ye flatly declined. “Then I can’t go to school with Ezart. I want to find him and apologize. Then we’ll go to school together.” He had even planned it out already!
“So that’s how it is.” An Te Qi scratched his face and didn’t do anything further.
In any case, he had already tried to ensure world peace. Furthermore, if Ah Ye came back home deeply hurt and crying, it would be hard to say that Ri Xiang Yan wouldn’t gun him down, or simply destroy the entire world. So, while the world was still safe and sound, he should hurry and do his experiments!