“What do you mean it hasn’t started yet? Weren’t you telling it to me!?” Why is he yelling? I don’t like yelling. “If you weren’t telling me your story, then what was all that before? Lies?”
The barkeep exhaled. “Okay. What’s sixteen minus six?”
Uh…. “Mrs. Feathers, let me borrow your…, wait. You don’t have any.” Gah, why’s the barkeep quizzing me all of a sudden? “Barkeep! Let me use your fingers. Hold them all up and stay like that.” Okay, now I’ll hold up mine until I reach sixteen. Eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen. “And now I subtract six….” Fifteen, Fourteen, thirteen…. Uh…. “Mrs. Feathers. How many fingers did I put down just now?”
I knew that. Twelve, eleven, ten! “Ten! Sixteen minus six is ten!”
The barkeep stared at me with a blank expression. Then he smiled brightly. “Wow! Good job! That was amazing.” He grabbed my empty cup and refilled it with the stuff inside the barrel. “Do you want this big brother to continue telling his story? It’ll be very exciting, but you can’t interrupt, okay?”
Is it just me, or is he treating me like I’m special…? It must be because I am special! “Yes, tell the story! I want to hear why you’re miserable.”
“Okay, I’ll start again.” The barkeep smiled at me. “Once upon a time, there was a man named Long Chen. He was born into a very rich and powerful family. His father was the leader of the family, and everyone treated Long Chen well. Once Long Chen turned four, he, and all the other children of his family, took a test. Long Chen got the highest grades, and everyone looked up to him! For six years, Long Chen was treated extremely well by his family. He was given the best food, the best drinks, and the best room inside of the mansion. But then one day….”
What happened next? Why’d he stop? “What happened?”
The barkeep hunched down, and his face turned dark from the shadows. “Something terrible happened. Long Chen was poisoned!”
“Poisoned!? Which bastard poisoned Long Chen!? I’ll kill him! Wait, no, killing is bad. I’ll…, I’ll…, I’ll cut his p**** off!” That’s right! Anyone who poisons someone else is a no-good, dirty, stinking bastard! Just look at Snow, hmph, hmph.
“C-cut his p**** off?” The barkeep’s face paled. “A girl like you shouldn’t say things like that!”
Mrs. Feathers coughed. “A girl like her is drinking alcohol at nine in the morning.”
“Don’t judge me! I’m washing away my sorrow! No, not sorrow; I’m not sad. I’m washing away my anger!” Blech. This alcohol really does taste disgusting. And I’m not sure it’s working. Mm, I must not be drinking enough of it. “Carry on with the story! It was getting to a good part!”
The barkeep looked at Mrs. Feathers. Then he looked back at me. What? Was there something on my face? “Ahem, anyway. Long Chen was poisoned! His strength fell, and during the next family test, he got the lowest scores. At first, people thought it was a fluke; Long Chen must not have been feeling well that day. But then another month passed by, and the children of the family took another test. Once again, Long Chen was at the bottom! That’s when people realized, Long Chen was no longer the best child. The best food he was given, they were taken away! The best drinks he was given, those were taken away too! And the best room inside of the mansion…, it was given to Long Chen’s cousin! Long Chen was kicked out of his room and forced to live in a shed.”
“A shed!? He’s the worst child, but he still gets a whole shed to himself!?” What the hell! “When I was in the army, I wasn’t even given a ceiling! I slept outside and covered myself with dirt to stay warm! This Long Chen is such a spoiled bastard, hmph.” Ah? Why’s the barkeep sweating? “Ahem. Carry on with the story.”
“L-Long Chen lost all the benefits of being the best child. No one even looked at him anymore, except for his father. He tried his best, but no matter what he did, he always ended up last in the tests. Alas, one day, even his father gave up on him and expelled him from the clan. But Long Chen’s father wasn’t heartless. He bought a tavern for his son to live in and make money off of. Even when the tavern wasn’t making any money, Long Chen’s father would secretly send people to the tavern to spend lots of money, keeping the tavern afloat.”
“As I thought, this Long Chen is a spoiled bastard!” Why are Mrs. Feathers and the barkeep staring at me with such strange expressions? Maybe I made a funny face when I finished drinking this third cup. Anyways…. “Barkeep! Continue!”
“For six years, Long Chen hasn’t made any progress, living in the tavern, serving unreasonable people and their rainbow pet birds. His father still supports him despite his best efforts to find a way to make money himself. Long Chen was a promising alchemist, but something happened, and the prices of herbs rose up while the prices of pills dropped down, making it impossible for Long Chen to make any money out of it. While Long Chen continues to stagnate, the people around him continue to move ahead, leaving Long Chen behind. The cousin that took his room became a saint-realm expert, and Long Chen’s fiancée, an unparalleled beauty in all of Dragonhead City, was discovered to have legendary yin-type meridians. She—”
“Wait! Fiancée!? Where the heck did she come from all of a sudden!?”
“Before Long Chen was even born, his grandfather made a promise with his sworn brother, that if their descendants were of opposite genders and in the same generation, they were to be married.”
“…Spoiled bastard. But isn’t that terrible for Long Chen’s fiancée? She’s amazing, and he’s useless! Why are the two still together?” Eh? Did I just plant a heart devil somewhere? That’s weird. Mm, it must’ve been the alcohol making my stomach feel funny.
“Boss…, I’m just making sure…, but you know he’s Long Chen, right?” Mrs. Feathers asked and pointed at the barkeep.
Huh? “Wait. Really? This barkeep’s the spoiled bastard?” Mm? The heart devil grew? “Oh…. Uh, oops.” Well, since he can’t cultivate, the heart devil shouldn’t matter, right? Mm. And no harm was done. Perfect!Previous Chapter Next Chapter