The Kindhearted Reaper chapter 1

by Tang Jia San Shao

Translated by Grenn


First chapter : A Very Cold Little Town

Tian Yuan continent contained five countries, to the North there was Tian Jin empire, to the South there was Hua Sheng empire, Luo Ri empire was in the west and the federation of Suo Yu was in the east, finally, in middle of the continent, separating and bordering the other four countries, a not very big land shaped like a hexagon, was the most famous Divine Church. Between the four big kingdoms, besides Luo Ri empire and Hua Sheng empire whose relations were beyond bad, the others countries’ relations were pretty good and peaceful. Every year, every country would demanded the Church a ‘protection fees’ as payment for their expenses.

The Tian Jin empire’s habitants were almost all fair-skinned, they possessed tall figure with fair-haired and blue-eyed, whereas Luo Ri empire’s and Hua Sheng empire’s habitants were more yellow-skinned with black hair and black eyes. The only federation on the Tian Yuan continent, Suo Yu Federation, compare to the others countries, was a bit more complex in terms of it habitants’ appearance as there was fair-skinned people, yellow-skinned people, even sturdy black-skinned people. There was also many different tribes existing inside the Federation. The unique force of power in the Federation were composed by the six most powerful clans in the Suo Yu Federation, which added them in the top three countries with the most military power.

On the continent, besides the places where humans lived, there existed a minority of races, such as the good-natured fairies, the ill-tempered dwarfs, the multitalented flying humanoid and, more rare, those who lived only in the jungle like the half-beasts and the mysterious demon race and the legendary dragon race. When compare to the human race, theses races were too scarce in numbers and widely dispersed all over the continent. Since a hundred thousands years, they had coexisted with the human race. However, due to the different races having different livelihood and habits, generally, they lived in isolated places far from the humans like in ravine, sometimes in forest. They seldom had any contact with humans.

Although the Divine Church only occupy a small land on the continent, they, however, possessed an unsurpassed position. Except for a small minority of atheists, the majority of the human race are devoted believers of the Church. In all the clergy of the Divine Church, the most revered position was the Supreme Pontiff, which possessed the highest authority. Below the Supreme Pontiff was the four crimson clothed priests, providing assistance to the Supreme Pontiff in managing the Church’s internal affairs, also known as the cardinals. Below the red clothed priest, there was twelve white clothed priests, in the case of more than half the number of the red clothed and the white clothed priests believed that the Supreme Pontiff made a major mistake, they could execute de Supreme Pontiff for misconduct, however, because the promotion to the Supreme Pontiff is unusually strict, since the creation of the Church, there had yet been a situation where the Supreme Pontiff was accuse of misconduct. Below the white clothed priests were the high priests, the middle-ranked priests, the common priests and the acolytes, they are also called seng lü or shen nü. In the Church’s clergy there was no fear of not marrying, however, the partner must be a church believer. The one reason why the clergy received so much respect was because they were all light magicians. If they wished to reach the position of white robed priests, the seng lü must reach a level of light magic equivalent or higher than a dao shi, and, on the continent, magic dao shi had never reach more than three persons. The strength of a red clothed priest was deep and unmeasurable, there was once a legend, when the four crimson clothed priests and the twelve white clothed priest work together, their light magic power, might be equivalent to a country whole military force. The selection of the Supreme Pontiff is amongst the crimson clothed priests, the selection procedures were extremely strict and hard to pass, as the Supreme Pontiff is selected, the predecessor will hold a religious inauguration, the Church most supreme ability will be pass on to the next Supreme Pontiff. In the end, who ever know what kind of strength did the Supreme Pontiff had, since it’s been close to a millennium, there hadn’t ever been a situation where there was a need for the Supreme Pontiff to personally appeared. The external affairs of the Church are manage by the judgment priests, the head of the judgement priests possessed the authority and status as the crimson clothes priests, the judgment priests’ jurisdiction of overseeing general court trials gave them the name of Divine Church executioners as they are the most fanatic god believers, especially when it came to handling other religions, there was always just one word…kill. The orthodox clergy was different, the court trials of all the members, there wasn’t any bias, it was handle by the presiding judge, the presiding judge is in charge along with the Supreme Pontiff.

The continent possessed a common currency, it was engraved by the Divine Church with their emblem on it, the money used a multiply of ten for conversion, one diamond coin = 10 amethyst coins = 100 gold coins = 1,000 silver coins = 10,000 copper coins, the annual income of a common household is around 50 gold coins, to be able to maintain the family’s livelihood, approximately 30 gold coins per year were need.

The four countries each had their own common language, and each had their own major cities and aristocracy’s system, in general, everyone can use the Divine Church’s language to communicate. Our story began in a small town called Ninuo situated in the north of the province of Bi’er Nuo  which is located in the north of the Tian Jin empire which happened to be in the north of the continent.

The town of Ninuo, it’s a small town located at the extreme north of the Bi’er Nuo province of the Tian Jin empire, this region was also part of the most northern point of the Tian Yuan continent, winter days were short whereas the nights were long, all year around the weather was nothing, but cold. In this little town, the majority of the locals depended on ice fishing to make a living. The ice ocean had icebergs floated around all year long, which helped produce an abundant  amount of seals’ and sea lions’s furs, items that noblemen are very fond of.

The dark clouds were hovering in the sky, it seems like there would be a blizzard. In a dark alley of Ninuo town, several people with rag-like cotton-padded jacket were gathering. Amongst them, there was a middle-aged man with a knife scar on his forehead, glaring in anger at a black-haired, black eyed, only twelve-years-old girl, seemingly weak looking with her three-years-old clothes. The little girl looked very thin, a pale complexion, on her head there was a piece of fabric that cover half her face from the nose down, her features were uncleared, her whole body was shivering from the cold, the pair of big and bright eyes hidden behind her hair watched fearfully the middle-aged man.

PA!

The middle-aged knocked down the little girl with a slap, he cursed in rage : “You damned Yatou, that’s enough you damned idiot, it’s such a simple mission and you can’t complete it, even if you’re not Ah Dai what did you tried to pull back there, helping that old lady, my eyes was indeed blind at that time, how could I offer to shelter a trash like you, all day long you only knows how to eat, what more can you do.”

The middle-aged man’s body was tall has he stood next to the girl, a little boy stepped forward to supported the trembling little girl to get up, carefully, he wiped the blood that had flow out of the corner of the her mouth, Dai Dai rushed to the middle-aged and said : “Uncle Li, you have to forgive Yatou again,  I, I will go out later to pull some more fishes back.”

Uncle Li groaned, looked at the foolish mannered of the black haired and black eyed boy, his tone ease a bit, he said : “Ah Dai, every time you pleaded to replace her, only you can pull back so many fishes, how it is possible for you to master such a way to make a living? At my place, there isn’t a person that can reap without sowing, Yatou, today, you will go watch Ah Dai, I’ll let you  off again, if there’s a second time…*snort, snort* Let’s go.” persuaded, he leaded several young child outside, that haven’t gone into the alley, he turns his head toward Ah Dai in an amiable manner : “Don’t forget what you just said, you better pull some big fishes, you know, right?”

Ah Dai stared blankly for a moment before he nodded his head, when uncle Li saw this, he left satisfied.

Theses people were Ninuo town most lowest rank thieves, they are not suitable to be robber, since they are small thieves there are only some things that can only be reach by their little hands, this is called to pull fish, this is exactly stealing things, and Uncle Li was their leader. The group he controlled had a dozen of more child, Yatou was the only girl, all of them were orphan he picked up from the streets. Amongst theses child, only a boy named Ah Dai was the most capable. Originally, Uncle Li took notice of the ability of Ah Dai’s pair of nimble little hands before he offered him shelter, this child appeared distracted and even his brain was blank, so to speak, sometimes even his speech was dimwitted, when asked for his name even he didn’t know, even when he learnt to steal, it took him a lot of time to learn, he’s also not very good at using his brain, therefore everyone called him Ah Dai. However, although Ah Dai was slow-witted, he was very stubborn. He passed through Uncle Li’s several months of teaching with diligent study and practice. At last, he learnt by heart one skill ‘how to steal something under the cover of emergency’. In addition, he practiced the skill to the point of perfection. In order to practice the speed of the skill, he even went outside in the cold street and used his finger to poke the snowflakes on the ground, the more snowflakes he touched, the less he missed, that was the proof of his exceptional eyesight. Although, this method was stupid, yet it’s still yield a very good result. After several months with that kind of practice, finally, he possessed the foundation to pull fishes. What made uncle Li the most excited was Ah Dai’s foolishness, fundamentally, he didn’t know what fear was, he also didn’t know that pulling fishes was a bad thing, as long as he was given steamed buns to eat, he would listen and follow any orders.

Out in the street, who would take notice of the common appearance and frank expression of a child, however, quite often it was mistake, their purse would have already entered Ah Dai’s little hands. The first time Uncle Li saw Ah Dai’s had a full and bulging purse in his hands, he was unable to hide his amazement, from then on, Ah Dai was part of his group of child with the most “preferential” treatment, he was able to eat at least two cold and hard steamed buns everyday, making the others extremely envious. Even though Ah Dai’s is foolish, he had a very good character, he often doesn’t eat to his full satisfaction, he would give some of his food to other people, however, the others child didn’t took into account his kindness and be grateful to him, instead, they frequently tease him, some even went as far as to snatch his food.

Yatou was picked up by Uncle Li one year ago. From to Yatou’s story, since she could remember, she always live with her great-grandmother. Although life was hard, she had warm food and eat to her fullness. More than a year before, her great-grandmother got ill and died, without a source of income, she had no choice but to go begging. The only reason uncle Li picked up Yatou was because he took a fancy of her, not because of her broken house, in the cold weather of Ninuo town, what kind of house can still stay good? Yatou and Ah Dai were two opposites, she learnt everything at an incredible speed, those so-called “skills” of uncle Li didn’t took one month for her to learn. Despite this, so far, she was the only child who hadn’t pull any fish yet. It wasn’t because of her skills, it was mostly because she had good and honest heart. She had several times succeed in pulling fish, but when she looked back and saw the look of anxiety on the owners of the purse, she couldn’t help, but give the purse back. For this reason, she didn’t know how many times she go beaten, and every time, Ah Dai would take her place to pull fish and these pair of intelligent and foolish child became good friends. In this group of thieves, they are quite conspicuous, because they are the only one who were yellow-skinned, it might be possible that they had the same origin, therefore, it gave rise to a sense of companionship between them. Today, it was because of Yatou who returned the things she stole to an anxious woman that she suffered uncle Li’s beating.

Finally, when uncle Li’s silhouette disappeared at the end of the alley, Yatou, suddenly, threw herself at Ah Dai and cried bitterly on his chest. Ah Dai stares blankly at her petite figure before he lifted her face to wipe her dripping nose, he carefully patted her shoulder, and said : “Yatou, sto-stop crying. Does it hurt?”

After a while, Yatou’s weeping came to a rest, she lifted her face red from the cold, she looked at the boy in front of her with her tearful hazy eyes : “Ah Dai-gege[1], being alive, it’s truly painful, ah!”

Ah Dai clearly hadn’t undertood the girl’s meaning, from his chest he took out half of a hard and rock-alike steamed bun and gave it her, blankly, he said : “Yatou, I’m giving you this to eat. Fill yourself and you won’t feel the pain.”

Yatou looked at the foolish boy blank stare brimming with sincerity, she carefully took the steamed bun, sobbing several times and said : “Ah Dai-gege, why are you so good to me?”

Ah Dai pulled Yatou to sit in the corner, he took out his worn out cotton-padded jacket, he draped it over his and Yatou’s shoulders, and they snuggled together, naively, he said : “Was is good what I have for you? Quickly eat the steamed bun, as soon as you eat the steamed bun you won’t be cold. Later, I still want to go pull fishes.” as he said, he was drooling while staring at the cold, hard and rock-like steamed bun in Yatou’s hand.

Yatou saw Ah Dai’s simple and honest expression, she couldn’t help being moved, with her hands, she broke the steamed bun in two and gave one piece to Ah Dai.

Ah Dai swallowed his saliva and said : “I, I am not hungry. You can eat by yourself.”

Yatou took the steamed bun and placed it in Ah Dai’s hand, she said : “My appetite is small, I can’t eat that much, let’s eat together.” as she said, she clasped the one-quarter of steamed bun and took a mouthful of it.

Ah Dai wolf down in one bite the one-quarter of steamed bun, due to eating very quickly, he can’t help chocking down, “Ah, urgh.”

Yatou saw Ah Dai’s whole face red from chocking, she couldn’t laughing lightly while she used the back of the jacket to stop the snow from falling to the ground and let them in Ah Dai’s mouth.

With difficulty, Ah Dai drank the snow that turned into water, after a while, his energy was all spent from passing the dry steamed bun down his throat, he took a breath, patted his stomach and said : “Ah, thank you!”

After quite some time, Yatou finished the steamed buns with great difficulty, suddenly, she turned to Ah Dai and said : “Ah Dai-ge[2], can you wait for me to grow up before we can marry?”

Ah Dai gave her a blank look, he thought very hard on the meaning of “getting married”, after a while, he couldn’t keep thinking and asked : “What does getting marry mean?”

Yatou sighed gloomily and said : “Getting marry is… ah… it’s me wanting to be your wife and to take care of you for a lifetime! You just have to promise to marry me and never to go back on your words, then, from this moment on, I, Yatou, will be your fiancée. After that we can have a closer relationship.”

Ah Dai lightly nodded and said : “Fiancée? Hum, that’s good, then, everyday, I can often share with you some of the steamed buns.”

Yatou gave him a blank look as she fell silent.

A moment later, with the cotton-padded jacket, Yatou felt much more warmer, she readjusted the cotton-padded jacket once more so it could cover Ah Dai’s shoulder, she said to him : “Ah Dai-gege, you quickly go pull fish, otherwise uncle Li will scold you. I, I will go together with you.”

Ah Dai lightly nodded, he supported Yatou to stand and asked : “Yatou, your skills are better than me, why do you always return the fishes to their owners?”

Yatou gave a sigh and said : “Ah Dai-ge, you didn’t know that stealing things from people is something bad?”

Ah Dai shook his head and replied : “I know, but if we don’t pull fish we will go hungry!”

Yatou knew herself and this foolishly laughing boy’s vague explanation, might as well not say anything, she dragged Ah Dai out of the alley, the pair walked toward Ninuo town’s most bustling district, only in that place, their abilities can be fully used to grab a target, Yatou secretly made a decision; Today, she will tell Ah Dai that she wants to help him pull some fishes back, in order to repay him.

They barely walked a bit when from behind them came the sound of someone shouting : “Little girl, stay here.”

Ah Dai turned around in fright as was Yatou, appearing in front of them was a gorgeous carriage, behind the small window of the carriage, the face of an old woman appeared, Yatou recognized her, that was the person she returned the purse today.

“Little girl, it’s really you, ah?” That old noble woman display a smile on her face, the carriage’s door opened, a servant came to assist the woman, the old woman went out of the carriage, her clothes was sumptuous, of course, Ah Dai and Yatou never dare to imagine what kind of material the clothes were made of, she was also covered into a mink fur leather cape.

Yatou somewhat timidly asked : “You, Do you need something?”

Ah Dai believed this woman wanted to find Yatou for troubles, he quickly used his body to hide Yatou, he watched the old woman cautiously.

The old woman all smiles said : “Children, don’t be afraid, little girl, just a while ago you returned my wallet to me, I still haven’t thanked you, right? This is such a cold day, how can your frail body bear it, ah!”

Yatou shook her head and said : “You don’t need to thank me, your wallet was originally stolen by me.”

Ah Dai jumped in fright, although he was slow-witted, he perfectly understood that if the target of the pulled fish catch you who knew how it could end, he hurriedly covered Yatou’s mouth and rapidly said : “Yatou, you stop saying nonsense.”

The old woman didn’t tell her servant to go to Yatou like he had imagine, she was still beaming a smile and asked : “For what reason did you still give me back my purse?”

Yatou pushed out Ah Dai’s hand, she took her courage and said : “I, I saw that you were very worried, so I returned it to you. You don’t bother with him, I’ll take all the punishments.”

The old woman faintly smile and said : “ En, you’re really and kind and honest child, I know that you stole my things and didn’t wish for it. Your parents?”

The corner of Yatou’s eyes became red, she said : “I don’t have parents,  I am an orphan.”

The old woman scowl her brows, she sighed : “You look like a good child, you must not stay in this kind of place, come, come over here for this grandma to look at you.” as she said, she beckoned Yatou with a gesture to come toward her.

Ah Dai feared that Yatou will get the worst of it, he hurriedly said : “Don’t go, Yatou, we’re running immediatly.”

Yatou didn’t listen to Ah Dai’s warnings, she faintly sense that perhaps going in front of this old woman would change her whole life. She lowered her head and went in front of the old woman, she was shivered at she stood there.

The old woman cupped her hand and lifted Yatou’s dirty little face, she take Yatou’s messy hair and put it behind her head, from her chest, she took out a clean and white handkerchief and wipe out the dirt on Yatou’s face, then she nods : “En, child, you certainly have suffer a lots of hardships. Do you wish to go with grandma? Grandma can give you a good life, i’ll let you receive a normal education.”

Yatou big eyes shined, she turned to Ah Dai who watched her go, he had an anxious look and stared blankly while standing motionlessly at the same place.

“What it is? Child, you don’t wish to go with me? My husband is the Governor of the Yunmu province. That place is at the border of the Empire’s and Church’s borders with four seasons throughout the year. This place, it’s really too cold.”

Yatou looked at her body and then look at the old woman gorgeous and clean attires, she probed her with a question : “Grandma, you can bring me and my gege together?”

The old woman looked at Ah Dai, just at that moment, Ah Dai rubbed out the tears on his eyes with his hands and two line of snot dripped out from his nose, couple with a foolish appearance. A look of disgust flashed quickly in the old woman’s eyes, she shook her head and said : “I can’t, just a moment ago, he tried to deceive me, he is not an honest child. I can only bring you. You have to decide quickly, this place is too cold.”

Yatou hesitated a moment, she looked at the carriage and the old woman in front of her, and once again, looked at the wretched Ah Dai, she resultely nodded her head : “Good, I’m going with you.”

The old woman had a satisfied smile : “En, this is one clever child, we should get into the carriage, first, let’s exchange your clothes for something better, wearing this few can freeze one to death.”

Yatou said : “Grandma, you waited for me.”, as she said, she turned and trotted back to Ah Dai, “Ah Dai-ge, I want to go, don’t blame Yatou, all right? I really can’t live this kind of poor-stricken life, Ah Dai-ge, you should remember what we promise a moment ago, wait for me grow up, i’ll come back for you at that time.”

Ah Dai said : “Yatou, you really want to go? Uncle Li will know, he will beat you.”

Teardrops slide down from Yatou’s eyes, she choked with emotions : “Ah Dai-ge, you be at ease, he won’t have any chance to beat me anymore. I’m going, remember what we promise a moment ago. If you have the chance, you have to leave Uncli Li too, he is not a good person. Stop being a little thief.”, as she said, she didn’t wait for Ah Dai to ask why not be a thief to have steamed buns to eat, Yatou already turned and went back to the old woman, the old woman leaded her inside the carriage with the help of the servant inside, Yatou saw the inside of the carriage was warm and gorgeous. She lifted the curtain in front of her, she gave Ah Dai one deep look as if she want to remember his appearance.

The carriage left, only Ah Dai was left standing there foolishly looking blankly at where the carriage disappeared, in the bottom of his heart arises a faint feeling of loss. As far as Ah Dai came to say, in his heart and mind, Yatou was as important as a steamed bun.

—————

PA!

Uncle Li grabbed all of the purses contained in Ah Dai’s hand and roared : “ You *&$?$#*?& YA, you really saw Yatou left with someone? Damnit! Wasting so much of daddy’s[3] food, still haven’t repay daddy this incorrigible Yatou, she dared run away, infuriating me, really infuriating me.” Uncle Li used his foot to kick Ah Dai, in that small wooden room, he incessantly beat Ah Dai.

Ah Dai curled up on the ground in pain, sobbing spasmodically, he said : “No, it’s my fault, I let her go because she wants to go.”

In the middle of his fit of rage, uncle Li heard Ah Dai’s words which further angered him, exerting more physical, he kicked Ah Dai several times, cursing in rage : “AH! SHE WANTS TO GO SO YOU JUST LET HER GO! You, stupid idiot. Let you, stupid, let you, stupid.” Miserable shrieks kept coming out from Ah Dai’s mouth, on the side, all the little thieves were rejoicing in the scene before them, none of them even went to dissuade uncle Li or help Ah Dai.

After a while, uncle Li’s anger subsides a lot, just then, he remembered that Ah Dai was his main source of income, if he broke down after a beating, where could he find such an obedient subordinate.  He furiously pickup the wallets on the floor, strongly say to Ah Dai : “In the future, learn to be smarter.” One person went outside, all of the little thieves knew that he went to drink alcohol.

Ah Dai pulled back in the corner while his whole body was in pain, he was also unable to understand, obviously he wasn’t involve with the matter, why would uncle Li beat him. Everything from the moment before Yatou left until she did was circling inside his mind, impossible to get rid of.

The rest of the little thieves were eating the disgusting leftovers soup that uncle Li’s brought back from who knows which restaurant, laughing, giggling and chatting, one day went by. During the time Ah Dai was thinking by himself, one day passed by and he hadn’t eaten yet, for a long time, he didn’t join them. His heart felt some kind of pressure, more and more strongly he missed Yatou. He remembered what Yatou said to him, being alive, it’s truly painful, ah!

The next morning, uncle Li shown mercy and threw at Ah Dai a steamed bun, when Ah Dai finished wolfing down the steamed, he was send out to pull fish once again.

From the sky, gently falling down, the snowflakes gave the passerby a faint chilliness as they whirlwind around them. On the road, walking slowly, Ah Dai was thinking, when can another old lady reappeared to bring him, ah! When can he eat enough steamed bun just to feel full? Didn’t Yatou knew how? That old lady and her went away, everyday, wouldn’t she have steamed bun to eat?

Just as he was thinking about it, suddenly, he saw in front of him someone wearing odd clothes, the reason why he felt that person was odd was because that person tall stature was completely covered by one big cloak, from which it was difficult to determine the appearance. Under the cloak there was one full and bulging purse swaying, Ah Dai has decided, today that person will be his first target. Doing while thinking, Ah Dai quietly follow him, from his belt, he felt his knife and took it out and waited for a good opportunity. The reason why he can successfully pulled fishes and that he was very tough had to do with the fact that, every time he chose a target, he would patiently follow his target until he can find a chance and succeed.

Immediately afterwards, that cloaked person went into a luxurious restaurant which had his exterior decorated with gold and jade in glorious splendor, the rooftop was made of glazed roof tiles of gold and jade, Ah Dai thought, to be able to eat here, that person’s purse must be full of money. Anticipating, he couldn’t help feeling excited standing here, if he can pull lots of fishes back, maybe uncle Li will give him enough steamed buns to be full. He crouched down in a corner near the restaurant’s doors, patiently waiting.

“Go, go, go, to wherever you came from little beggar, go to the side stupid.” The restaurant’s doorman gave Ah Dai a kick with a look of revulsion while he said that.

Ah Dai was long accustomed to this kind of self-interested doormen, he hurriedly nodded and bow before scrambling to a certain distance, using his abilities finding a place to protect him from the wind and snow, he, then, crouched in a corner.

Fiddling with the knife in his hands, he waited patiently, he wasn’t in a hurry, after eating a meal, one had to go out.

No less than an hour later, finally, that person wearing a big cloak went out, Ah Dai’s excitement couldn’t be contain, that person was walking right in front of him. It was best to start. He hurriedly stood up, steadied his mind, directly, walked to that person. That person’s stature was very tall, Ah Dai only reached to his abdomen. The distance between the two constantly reduced. Just when their distance was naught, Ah Dai lifted his blade to his head, staggered a bit and collided onto that person.

He suddenly felt like he bumped unto a piece of metal, his body ached painfully, he inadvertently lifted his head and chanced upon the appearance of that person. It was an aged complexion with a face full of fine wrinkles, he appeared to be around 70 or 80 years old.

“Sorry, sorry, I didn’t mean to.” Ah Dai rushed to assisted the old man.

The old man merely snorted, didn’t say a word and kept walking, apparently, he didn’t realized that under his cloak, the purse wasn’t there anymore.

When he saw the other party didn’t bother with him, Ah Dai excitedly walked away, with no care, on the snow covered ground, he fell on his back, it was the effect of the beating yesterday, it caused him to constantly spasmed in pain. Even if it was painful, it was also difficult to stop the excitement in his heart, the moment he took hold of the purse, right away, he felt the heavy weight of it, even if the inside was fill with copper coins, it was also enough for today to report back. Swaying to stand up, he quickly ran into an alley. Looking left and right, he saw no one chasing after him, he couldn’t help relaxing a bit, he patted his stomach and sat on the ground. However, Ah Dai was unaware that his target that he stole from was, the continent’s most unusual occupation, an alchemist.

On the continent, the most sublime occupation was priest, except for priests, in every country there existed several type of professions above the common laborers, each of theses professions formed a trade union[4], becoming an extraordinary power on the continent.

The mercenary trade union, the union with the most members, the so-called mercenaries, is one type of special profession which mainly accepts different requests from simple tasks to more challenging missions, accordingly to the missions, upon completion, they will receive different kind of rewards. The mercenary trade union’s branch are scattered in different regions, they mostly received assignment from the local region they are located, of course, the mercenary trade union is certainly not without purpose as it offered some services for the mercenaries, for example, the mercenaries can received an expenditure according to the mission’s request. From this the mercenaries can form ranks to become a group, usually for some difficult missions, all the employers liked to use the large strength of the mercenaries to carry out their requests, even though the price for the requests are expensive, they don’t hesitate to pay. Mercenaries and mercenary groups are separated into six ranks. The lowest rank is the fourth rank mercenary or mercenary group, whereas, the upper ranks consisted of third rank, second rank, first rank, special rank and, the highest rank, SS rank[5]. Due to the number of mercenaries and mercenary groups, wanting to rise in the mercenary’s rank is exceedingly difficult. The mercenary trade union issued different badges depending on the mercenary rank and city of the mercenary, in the mercenary’s organization, the higher ranked the mercenary or mercenary group was, the more they will be revered and respected by the lower ranked.

The magician trade union, second only to the vocation of priests, due to the practice’s asceticism of magic, the requirement are extremely high regarding the inner body essence, therefore, the number of magicians are extremely rare, amongst them, those practicing light magic are almost all connected to the Divine Church. They are often pay very high salary to be in the army, almost all the middle-ranked magicians had a title of nobility confer to them by the kingdom where they are located, therefore, the magician is one of the most yearn profession by the common people, it stands for fame and power. Magicians are separated into junior rank magician, middle rank magician, advanced magician, high magician, magic scholar and magic teacher. Due to the country’s allowance being their main source of income, the magician will get a badge corresponding to their rank from the magician trade union of their city, the allowance given to them will be according to their rank. They have to pass the magician trade union’s examination to get a rank. The magician trade union is the sole union where there wasn’t a need to pay a fee to the union.

The alchemist trade union, their number although not much, but in every country they are extremely well respected. Their union in every country often balance their account with the country’s purchases, which were high grade equipments for the army elites, because the alchemist’s specialities are in the refinement of weapons which compare to the blacksmiths are higher in demand. The reason why the Tian Jin empire got this name was because they had the four biggest alchemist unions on the continent. The alchemist were classified the same way as the magicians, as they are mostly experts in fire magic, unyielding magicians which recognize and combine any kind of ores and medicines. Formidable alchemists can often forge out high grade divine weapons, the price of theses divine weapons were nearly impossible to evaluate, receiving no small measure from each country royal family, even from the Divine Church. Alchemist is the most lucrative profession apart from assassins. Alchemists are divided depending on their level of mastery : junior, intermediate, advanced, special rank and master rank. Even if alchemists had exchanges with every country, their badge is issued corresponding to their rank. However, advanced alchemists often disdained to go get their badge.

The assassins trade union, their number was the smallest and they are the continent most mysterious union, they are described as a group of killers, although the number of staffs in the assassin union is not much, however, they all had very high capabilities. Through some underground channels, they accepted assassination mission and received high commission. The union’s organization is very strict, to become a member, there’s only two ways. The first way is to pass through all kind of difficult tests; The second, every year, the assassin union will announce an extremely challenging mission, only people who had complete the mission will have to chance to be recruit by the assassin union. Naturally, to complete that highly challenging mission was many times more difficult than passing the numerous difficult tests, and, for this reason, it was very possible to lose one’s life. Due to the fight and schemes between the humans, power struggle, the mere mention of the union can scared the common citizen on the continent from since the creation of the union up to now. Assassins also have distinct ranks, from the bottom to the top assassin, An sha zhe, one who killed; Ren sha zhe, one who bore to kill; and, Mie sha zhe[6], one who exterminated. Theses assassins followed the assassin union which managed their extremely secretive identity, no outsider had the ability to know. They don’t belong to any country, their number don’t exceed more than a hundred, however, the fact is they were are dreadful force to behold. Very few amongst the assassins were magicians.

The robber trade union, truthfully speaking, it’s just a gathering of high level thieves, which some nobility like to hire them through the union to go steal any precious items they fancy if they can’t get it through more legal means. Not every thieves joined the robber union, although the regulations for the union’s members are not as strict as the assassin union, to join the robber union, thieves still need to pass all kind of evaluations, only those with excellent body essence and specialities skills could join the robber union. Robbers are separated into low to high score robber, high-ranked robber and Huo qu zhe[7], The one who get. Generally, to reach the Huo qu zhe level, all robber had to be able to steal multiple times famous priceless treasure. They are also feared by the majority of the nobility. The robber union only had one strict rule : they absolutely cannot commit murder. It’s also for this reason that the unions in each country hadn’t been exterminate by the army yet. In order to be able to complete their employer’s requests, the robber union had the most fast and biggest information network. Similar to the assassin union, the robber union is classified as one of the dark force on the continent.

—————

Taking out the heavy purse, Ah Dai’s heart was full of joy. The purse was very exquisite with leather as a finish and was embroidered with a hexagram in golden threads. Ah Dai had never seen such a pretty purse, in a hurry, he untied the rope and opened the purse, he felt the inside of the purse while daydreaming, if only this purse contained one amethyst coin, how wonderful would that be! He remembered more than a year ago, he just brought back an amethyst coin, uncle Li was unexpectedly excited about it and rewarded him with a big chicken drumstick, it made all the others thieves extremely envious. He had never ate such delicious food before, and he shared some with Yatou, they ate everything until only the bones were left. That wonderful flavor, up until this day, hadn’t fade away from his memories.

As Ah Dai took out the money from the purse, he stared blankly in amazement. He was long lost in his dreams of “chicken drumsticks” because, inside the purse, there was several dozen of gold coins, in addition, there was a twinkling bright light, never before had he ever seen a blue-colored money coin. Seeing a small pile of amethyst, this can earned him dozen of “chicken drumsticks”, ah! “I can eat until i’m full, I can finally eat until i’m full.” Ah Dai excitedly shouted.

Right when he was shouting excitedly, the hexagram on the purse suddenly started to shine brightly, immediately, an aged voice echoed in his ears : “You have never eaten to your fill before?”

Ah Dai’s whole body shook and the purse in his hands fell on the ground, the voice, where did this voice came from? He looked around, there was no one around him : “God blesses! God blesses!” Ah Dai’s hands clasped in a prayer at his chest and he kept repeating the words.

“You believe God can bless a little thief, hum?” The aged voice echoed once again. This time, Ah Dai heard it clearly. It came from the delicate purse.

“Ah–” Ah Dai shouted out in alarm, threw the purse away, his whole body couldn’t help shuddering as his eyes revealed fear. It was the first time that he met with something so strange. It can’t be helped, since he was still a child. Snowflakes still fell sparsely from the gloomy sky, at this moment, Ah Dai’s worn out cotton-padded jacket wasn’t able to give him some warmth, a cold feeling was rising from his heart.

The purse was emitting a faintly bright light, that beautiful golden six-pointed star was flickering a fantastic dreamy-like golden light as Ah Dai gazed in alarm. Suddenly, the golden halo expanded and, on top of the purse, an indistinct image of a man appeared. The image gradually became clearer, it was the old man wearing the big cloak.

The queer and overcast voice kept resounding from the cloak, the old man kept chanting his spell, if this was at uncle Li’s place, the place would surely be discover. Finally, his body transformed into substance, gently floating , before he left to the place where the purse was.

The old man was now beside the purse, he unhurriedly bend down to pick up the purse on the ground before he straightened back, sighing : “It has been quite a long time since I use this spell. I’m quite out of practice, ah!”

Seeing the strange scene with his target’s fish, even if Ah Dai was foolish, he still knew that a big catastrophe had befall him. He didn’t knew why, it has been four months since he hadn’t experience a miscalculation, unexpectedly, it happen when he succeed in pulling a big fish, he was caught. He curled up his body in lump on the ground as his whole body trembled, he believed that he was about to get a round of beating, this kind of situation wasn’t a first for him. Last time that he was caught, that big man almost broke his hand, at that time, uncle Li appeared and was able to scare the other person away, if he didn’t came at that time, Ah Dai feared that he won’t be able to pull fish and won’t be able to eat his favorite steamed buns.

The old man took the purse and threw it in front of Ah Dai as he indifferently said : “Pick it up and give it back to me.”

“Ye-yes.” Ah Dai carefully took the purse with his hands. He gave a deep look at the hexagram made of golden thread, he was unable to comprehend how, how could it be possible to “get inside” and go out of a man-made purse? His whole body shuddered. He carefully took all the money coins and returned them in the purse, this process didn’t took much time. Strangely, the old man didn’t hurried him, under the cloak, a pair of radiant eyes were sizing him.

“He-Here, gi-give it back to you.” Ah Dai, as much as possible, tried to show his meek and weakened expression, as he used his two hands to hand over the purse to the old man, by doing so, perhaps, when the time came for the beating, the other person will give him a lighter beating. Ah Dai had never before thought of resisting, because of this why would this “weather-beaten” body of his rebel, even if it was against one old man?

The old man took the purse, he hadn’t hit and hadn’t let Ah Dai go, standing still in front, he seemed to have something on his mind when he saw the small stature of the child in front of him.

Ah Dai lowered his head and crouch, his red hands freezing from the cold protecting his head, he curled up his whole body as much as possible and waited as the tempest of beatings drew closer.

“En, hands are very good-looking, ten slender fingers, palms are thick and broad, no wonder I wasn’t able to sense a thing when he stole from me. You still haven’t answer to my question a moment ago?”



[1] 哥哥 (gege) : The equivalent of ‘big brother’, but they are not blood-related. It’s just Yatou’s respectful way to call Ah Dai which she considered him to be close yet not her equal as friend, but more older and her support. Since it’s impossible to find a better word which can encompass all the subtle meanings which stemmed from the chinese culture and it’s not possible to omit it, I just put it in pinyin.

Random rant : The chinese culture has way too many different words to address people depending on their age and relationships with you which in English didn’t have an equivalent, although French has a few more way to address someone respectfully compare to English, it’s still far from Chinese.

[2] 哥 (ge) : The equivalent of ‘brother’.

[3] 老子 (laozi) : Yatou is not related to him obviously, but it’s an arrogant way to address oneself. Well, if you take into account how your age could affect how someone address you in most asian countries, this could be pretty rude when you say that so someone your age or older. It’s like you’re saying i’m superior to you, since a father is on a higher level in the family hierarchy compare to his child in general.

[4] 工会 (gong hui) VS 公会 (gong hui) : The chinese word for “trade union / labor union” and for “guild” are pronounce the same way with the same tone, but they are not written with the same characters. Unfortunately, the author used the characters for “trade union” which is 工会 instead of 公会 for “guild”, so I had no choice but to translate it as such. It’s pretty much work like a trade union too, so i’ll alternate between trade union or just union at time.

[5]  超级 (chaoji) : The super or ultra rank literally…at this point, to make it sound cooler, I changed it to SS rank. After the special rank, you get the SS rank instead of the Super rank.

[6] 暗杀者 (An sha zhe), 忍杀者 (Ren sha zhe), 灭杀者 (Mie sha zhe) : I just change the rank into pinyin instead of translating them since it’s quite a mouthful as a rank.

Random rant : After an assassin evolved a third time, it will become a Dalek, one who exterminate (Mie sha zhe).

[7] 获取者 (Huo qu zhe) : That rank was also too long to translate, so I just used the pinyin.

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