Chapter 6: Substitute Marriage (6)

Under the careful tending of both Mu Sheng and Liu Fuyi, Mu Yao’s body gradually recovered. As soon she could get out of bed and move, the opportunistic mayor immediately organized a feast to entertain these zealots that wholeheartedly prevented harm from coming to the general public.

“Young Noble Liu, Young Noble Mu, Miss Mu. This lowly person expresses his gratitude in place of all the people of Taicang County to all of you!” The mayor toasted them with great gratitude, tears even naturally burst out from the bottom of his heart.

The gratitude he felt towards these demon hunters was sincere. Before, he disdained and looked upon the supernatural. However, one serial killer demon killed more people than criminals the mayor executed in one year. He nearly let these metaphysical events cause him to lose his official’s hat.

The table was laden with fine wine and food. The mayor’s residence was luxurious and even the wine cups were ji-gang white porcelain from the government’s official manufactory. [1]1Ji-gang white porcelain: Basically very expensive, heritage-filled porcelain tea cups. It has chickens/fowls painted on its sides. When they poured wine in, it emitted a crisp sound.

Liu Fuyi’s clothes were as white as snow. He gracefully clinked cups with the mayor and took a sip. He spoke in a mild tone: “Demon hunters exterminate devils and slaughter demons as a way of life. We don’t dare accept such gratitude.”

His expression was very modest and his temperament wasn’t servile nor overbearing. He was rather lukewarm and after drinking, he calmly took away the cup in Mu Yao’s hand: “Yao’er only just recovered so it’s best if she doesn’t drink wine. I’ll drink in her stead.”

Mu Yao was stunned speechless and her cheeks turned red.

Miaomiao could feel that Mu Sheng wasn’t very happy all the way through.

Of course he wouldn’t be happy. After meeting danger, the relationship between the male lead and the female lead improved a step. They were already at the point where they’d face each other and smile. Mu Yao could probably no longer tolerate anyone else in her eyes.

Miaomiao saw with her own eyes how Mu Sheng deboned a chicken leg skillfully then put the meat into Mu Yao’s bowl. He habitually raised his eyes to look at her, his brows both long and thick: “Sis, the popcorn chicken is pretty good. Hurry up and try it.” [2]2 Popcorn Chicken/鹽酥雞: Direct translation: Salty Crunchy Chicken. Common street food in taiwan. Kinda looks like chicken nuggets but actual chicken.

Mu Yao smiled at her younger brother and carefully took a bite. Then, she turned around and gave the remainder to Liu Fuyi, her expression was filled with a crafty sweetness: “Want to try it?”

Mu Yao was born with a pair of beautiful eyes. She had a tear shaped birthmark under the corner of her eye and was an amazingly beautiful person. On normal days, her expression would be placid without much superfluous expressions. As such, her pair of beautiful eyes gave off a cold and proud feeling. For the moment, she exposed a rare girly expression and her cheeks were colored pink, it was pitifully cute.

Fuyi’s mood changed and their eyes connected as they smiled at one another. Following which, he unhesitatingly put it into his mouth and commented, “Mhm. It’s not bad at all.”

Mu Yao picked up the bowl and quietly lowered her head while her mouth curled up, looking just like a lovely ray of spring sunshine.

The two’s public display of affection that ignored onlookers caused the group of maidservants to look at them. The slower ones stared at them with foolish smiles on their faces.

Mu Sheng’s expression was a bit unsightly. He silently continued to help Mu Yao grab dishes while his hand trembled.

“Hahaha!” The fat mayor was astute and noticed the situation at the table turned awkward. He smiled as he broke the silence, “Since Young Noble likes this chicken dish, it is my residence’s honor. Eat some more, don’t hold back.” After saying his part, he put a chicken wing into Mu Sheng’s bowl.

Mu Sheng turned stiff for a moment before immediately courteously giving his thanks, trying to maintain the well-behaved and obedient image in front of his sister.

However, he didn’t touch that chicken wing at all and only consumed the half-exposed rice underneath. In the end, he purposely pushed the chicken wing high up on the side of the bowl. The other half of which the bottom of the bowl could be seen.

Mu Sheng was someone who had a temper. If he didn’t feel happy, he wouldn’t let others feel comfortable either.

The mayor felt awkward for a while, trying to guess what he had done wrong to earn the ire of his guests. He felt like he was on tenterhooks and seriously deliberated what words to say when the person sitting beside him suddenly moved. His eyes grew wide.

Mu Sheng’s head was lowered when suddenly a white wrist extended out and rapidly clasped the chicken wing. He glanced over to see Miaomiao, who sat beside him, had already fished up the chicken wing and put it on her own. Feeling her gaze, her face was full of innocence as she slowly explained, “Can I… I’m still hungry.”

Miaomiao heard the mayor gasp in shock as he reprimanded her: “Miaomiao! Yo-you! How could you take something from a guest’s bowl? You have no manners!” He lowered his tone and sounded like he was going to cry but no tears came out. “Beloved daughter, it’s not like our family doesn’t get to eat chicken, if you don’t have enough you can just get more, you…”

“I saw that Young Noble Mu didn’t like to eat chicken wings.” She replied in a weak but aggrieved tone, “I like to eat them.” 

She looked at her father mayor whose forehead was chock full of sweat. While gnawing on the chicken wing she smiled as prettily as a flower: “Our family’s chicken wings taste really good.”

Miaomiao’s body training was very effective, her originally bony figure had gradually grown plumper. Her chin was no longer sharp enough to kill people and her skin turned fair and glossy. Her cheeks put on a healthy pink glow and in total, was a completely different figure from the original undistinguished one.

She smiled until her mayor father’s heart melted. Any thought of treating their guests properly were thrown out the window. All he knew to do now was to rub her hand and smile pampering her with an: “Ok fine.”

Mu Sheng’s mood was very strange: On his left was a couple’s publicly displayed affection and on the right was a father fiercely protective of his daughter. There was only him who seemed disagreeable.

He lightly put his chopsticks down, his gaze deeply evaluating Ling Miaomiao’s hair-filled side profile just to the scene of her baring her teeth at the mayor threateningly.

How could a girl smile like this? His mouth curled up and his eyes also twisted up. He raised his head like a proud and foolish cat.

He thought to himself: Sister would never smile like that.

He subconsciously turned his gaze back to see Liu Fuyi and Mu Yao watching the father daughter pair with faint smiles. Their faces were full of warmth and there wasn’t the slightest bit of astonishment.

He felt a hint of lonely doubt deep within: Why are they all being happy?

Liu Fuyi perked up with: “There’s still one more chicken wing. Miss Ling, you can have it.” He was a man of his word and actually picked up his chopsticks and put it into Miaomiao’s bowl like he was a part of the family.

Miaomiao felt overwhelmed: “Aish, thank you Older Brother Liu!” After taking a few chomps, she suddenly seemed to remember something. Turning around with a beaming smile, she looked at Mu Sheng just as he was evaluating her and their gazes collided: “Thank you Young Noble Mu as well.”

Mu Sheng dodged her gaze and lowered his head to continue eating. His mouth curled up into a smile that wasn’t warm nor cold as he slowly spoke: “You’re welcome. In any case, I don’t like to eat chicken wings.”

Miaomiao ate till she felt full then put down her bowl feeling satisfied. Seeing Mu Sheng’s cold side-profile, she started thinking back on her own actions. She muddleheadedly pondered, just now he was angry for a while, did she infuriate the black lotus?

After lunch, she felt sluggish all over. She dragged her lethargic brain about and thought mockingly at herself. She must’ve erased all of the goodwill the black lotus had towards her right?

The systems other people received would give them a golden finger or two. If not, they would at least have a method to gain the target’s goodwill for the person undertaking the mission to peruse. Nothing like this rubbish son of god. Not to even speak of a golden finger, other than throwing missions at her, it never paid any attention to her.

“Mission Reminder: Mission 1: 1/4 complete. Scene continuation: Host must grow intimate with the character [Liu Fuyi] while following [Ling Yu]’s plotline. Warning ends here.”

Ling Miaomiao smiled coldly.

She forgot about one thing. One must never complain about the system. The system could read the host’s thoughts. As soon as you thought of it, it would appear. It had never listened to it’s host’s opinions. And right after reporting everything, it would then disappear.

Ling Miaomiao supported her head as she let out a resigned sigh.

Mu Yao had only just recovered from her heavy injuries so she was somewhat weak. After watching the raucous opera show with Miaomiao, dusk fell and she felt fatigued. As such, she returned to her room to rest early.

The male lead and the female lead still maintained a pure and resolute friendship even though they were already inseparable before even becoming a married couple. Liu Fuyi, Mu Yao and Mu Sheng all lived together in the three rather cramped guest rooms.

Mu Sheng originally wanted to shamelessly stay in his sister’s room but was shut down by Mu Yao in good humor: “Ah Sheng, I’m not a child. Why would I need you to look after me?”

”Sis. I won’t feel at ease.” When Mu Sheng acted spoiled, his eyes would turn teary and they would even slightly droop out at the edges, causing onlookers to be unable to move away their gazes. He solemnly followed up with: “I won’t bother your sleep sis. I’ll sleep on the ground, ok?”

When he first arrived at the Mu family, he would sleep together with Mu Yao. The young Mu Yao was only two years older than him but acted like a little adult. When he was woken by nightmares and huddled in the corner shivering, she would go over and put him in her embrace consoling him: “Ah Sheng, don’t be scared. It was just a nightmare.”

Her voice was thin and as warm as water. She would pat him on his thin and weak back through the quilt. Her aura drew one closer.

Unfortunately, once he was eight years old, Mu Yao stopped sleeping with him. Her warmth and care also changed as they grew up, slowly disappearing.

Mu Yao grew into a cold and stubborn young woman.

She woke up early and stayed out late everyday to train her skills. She would light up a lantern to read books, the window reflecting her figure. He would wait until the warm yellow light in her room was extinguished before going to sleep relieved.

Mu Yao had long built up immunity to her brother’s spoiled act. Turning a blind eye to him, she resolutely declined: “No need. I’m used to sleeping by myself. I can’t sleep if someone is watching me.”

Liu Fuyi timely interjected with: “Ah Sheng, be at ease. I will be on guard, I’ll protect Yao’er.” Speaking, he and Mu Yao looked at each other and smiled.

Mu Sheng could only force down his hatred and move into the room next to Mu Yao. Just like before, they were once again separated by a thin wall. Out of sight and out of touch.

The last vestiges of the warm yellow sunlight slowly neared the horizon. A curtain of darkness started to cover the sky slowly. After the sky turned dark, the mayor’s residence was still full of bright lanterns. Bright yellow 6-sided lanterns hung from the eaves, casting down an elliptic halo of light.

It was the end of spring and the night was a bit cold. The residence’s inhabitants mostly stayed in their warm rooms and played cards to whittle away their time. This was what most people called ‘Spring Fatigue’. In this season, most people got into bed earlier. The courtyard was void of the sounds of humans and only the chorus of bugs could be heard from the bushes.

Ling Miaomiao’s skirt brushed across the ground, emitting a near indiscinerable sound. She walked in the night alone and her steps were hesitant.

The hazy yellow light from the lanterns elongated her shadow, shakily casting it upon the courtyard’s white wall.

“Strange.” She mulled over, “Why does the mayor’s residence look different in the daytime compared to the nighttime?”

Ling Miaomiao was directionally challenged.

She couldn’t tell east from west and completely required someone to lead her when heading out. If there was nobody to guide her, she could easily walk circles around a small area, forever unable to find her way out.

The mayor’s residence had a very exquisite yard. Carved into the middle was a winding pond with pavilions and kiosks winding around the pond. They were scattered high and low and seemingly at random. There was a forest of big and small Lake Tai rocks[3] 3 Lake Tai rocks are quite ‘holey’ and porous. Also usually white. that felt chaste and undefiled. At the time, the fatty father had spent great sums of money to invite someone to fix up this yard. All for the sake of getting an “Elegant” out of a group of uncultured Jiangnan merchants.

Unfortunately, this yard looked exactly like a maze to Ling Miaomiao.

And the current yard was a maze engulfed by the night.

She followed her recollection of the path she took in the day and kept crashing into walls. It took her a lot of effort before she found a group of rooms she suspected to be the rooms where the main leads stayed at.

The lights in Mu Sheng and Mu Yao’s rooms had already been extinguished. However, a warm light still escaped from Liu Fuyi’s room.

Ever since receiving the mission reminder, Ling Miaomiao didn’t have a good night of sleep. Dark circles could be seen prominently under her eyes.

She couldn’t understand. Ling Yu was a perfectly fine young lady. Why did she have to do all of these sneaky and sly things?

Since things had come to this point, she was somewhat nervous inside. She had lived so many years but she had never done such an embarrassing thing before.

She slowly approached the window before slowly and prudently extending her hand. She lifted up the small protruding edge of the window paper and then stuck herself close to the hole.

There was a candle on the table and she could see Liu Fuyi’s warm side profile under it. He was currently leaning over the table, concentrating on carefully wiping that delicate looking Nine Mysterious Demon Restraining Pagoda with a piece of cloth.

Ling Yu always sneakily peeked at the beloved person in her heart in this way. A pervert right? Ling Miaomiao wanted to cry. Looking at the curled up paper in the window that seemed to have gone through countless storms, she couldn’t imagine how many times the original body had done this very same thing.

The candle flame suddenly shook and Liu Fuyi’s actions froze as he looked at the window with vigilance. Ling Miaomiao suddenly retreated a few steps. Standing in front of the door, she felt like her heart was about to leap out of her chest.

Suddenly, a hand landed on her shoulder and Ling Miaomiao sucked in a cold breath of air. Turning around, a familiar face came into view.

His white headband slightly drifted along with the wind. Mu Sheng was draped with the curtain of darkness as he stood still amid the night scene. His eyes looked like calm water as he smiled and spoke in a low voice: “Miss Ling, what might you be doing?”

[1] Ji-gang white porcelain: Basically very expensive, heritage-filled porcelain tea cups. It has chickens/fowls painted on its sides.

[2] Popcorn Chicken/鹽酥雞: Direct translation: Salty Crunchy Chicken. Common street food in taiwan. Kinda looks like chicken nuggets but actual chicken.

Popcorn chicken recipe | How to make kfc style popcorn chicken

[3] Lake Tai rocks are quite ‘holey’ and porous. Also usually white.


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