The sky above Danzhou City suddenly darkened; the heavy black clouds overhead resembled dirty cotton that was soaked. Like burnt cotton candy, it hung above the heads of the people.
But the people living near the sea had long since gotten used to such weather. They knew that it would still be a long while before the storm arrived and were thus not overly anxious. The same could not be said about the petite baseborn from the Count’s Manor, who would climb to the roof of the manor before the summer storm, shouting to the entire city, “It’s about to rain, everyone! Keep your clothes!”
“Why don’t you shout for everyone to keep their clothes anymore, young Master Fan?” The vendors chirped in curiously as they saw that bishounen (漂亮男孩儿 means beautiful boy ~MCM) walked amidst the crowd. The only main street in Danzhou village was littered with stalls hawking snacks and intricate toys.
Fan Xian smiled embarrassingly and did not reply. He was lead back to the manor holding the hand of the Eldest Servant girl. In his other hand, he carried a piece of tofu.
Everyone had already known that, unlike the other young Nobles, the illegitimate child from the Manor loved to assist the servants with their chores, especially the servant girls. Having already gotten accustomed to seeing this, they were not surprised.
It was already close to a year since Fei Jie had left Danzhou; Fan Xian had grown into a fine and sensible bishounen. (Heh heh ~MCM)
Reaching the manor, he let the servants carry the tofu to the kitchen before visiting the Old Madam, who, though was rather sickly herself, prayed for his health (This was a play on words, 欠安的老夫人请安 ~MCM). Casually placing the piece of paper into his shirt, Fan Xian returned to his study. He fiddled with the letter that was sent from the Capital by his sister before placing it beside the piece of paper. He was exuberant.
That year, the Emperor of Qin surprised everyone by changing the era name to be similar to the Nation’s (This is kinda like the Nipponese, who use different names for era e.g. this year is Heisei Year 26 ~MCM). Everyone was baffled by this action. Though the nobles in the Capital did not dare to question this act openly, they would gossip and speculate about it in private. This was even more prevalent amongst the nerds (酸腐人 is an insult, literally tl-ed to “sour and fermented people”. Since I gather that they meant scholars, I applied a similar insult ~MCM), who would debate passionately over the Eighth Amendment that was passed by the Empire’s Bureau of Investigation. These nerds came from all factions, be it a fan of the modern or the ancient prose, from a seasoned teacher of the National University to a humble novelist.
What usually happens after a change in era name was a change in the policy. Yet, there appears to be no sign of any intention to do so; the change was merely a formality. The only thing that intrigued the people was a sudden announcement from the Imperial Palace that the Inner Court would henceforth begin the publishing of “newspaper”.
Newspaper? No one had any idea what the heck it was. It was only when the Inner Court printed and distributed the first newspaper that everyone finally understood. No one was particularly interested in it afterwards.
Because the production of the newspapers were solely controlled by the Imperial Palace, with every single article scrutinised and approved personally by the Emperor, there were no articles published which may threaten the rule of the Empire. (Still happening in China, I’m afraid ~MCM)
For several issues, the newspaper, which was priced at one silver coin an issue, was snatched up by the people in the Capital who loved to try new things. Some of the rich nobles also begin to wonder if they fell for the Emperor’s ploy – Has the place begun constructing a new garden recently? (I’m not entirely sure about this sentence. It could mean either that they fell for the trick of paying for the newspaper, or they were wondering if the Emperor lied about not constructing a new garden. ~MCM) (prob like a reverend asks for donations and you see him with a new car)
The rather thin compilation of papers did not contain any information of significance. The only things that was written were the tourist attractions of each area, the magna opera of former geniuses and, the one that was covered the most, the daily private lives of the many Imperial officials, such as a high ranking Military Advisor being horribly beaten by his wife (Heh heh, wimp ~MCM) or a Captain of a Garrison division losing his front teeth, etc etc.
There were also other rumours that were made up about the neighbouring Northern Qi and Eastern Yi nations, but the officials of the Qin Nation only cared about their own matters. In the beginning, most found it pretty funny; it was only when it was their turn that they were utterly humiliated. Many have considered strong-arming the newspaper into silence, but, remembering that it had the Emperor’s approval, were quick to give up on that notion.
The number of newspapers printed was little. Of the entire Danzhou village, there were only two copies; one of which was delivered to the Count’s Manor.
After flipping through the newspaper he had stolen which had gotten the tongues of all the servants wagging, he could not control his emotions. His mouth gaped and he shoved his fist into it (Whuuuuuut ~MCM)…… What kind of era was this? There were already tabloids around…… And it was even approved by the Imperial Palace!
Another new policy, [Postage restriction amendments] was an announcement by the Royal family of a new rule regarding postages. Now, secret lovers could deliver messages fuss-free without the fear of being discovered.
Fan Xian furrowed his brow and looked at the newspaper in front of him. During this period of time, he has heard a lot of serious discussions from passers-by about the new policies, but from what he has seen, it seems that it was widely agreed that the new Emperor had a few screws loose.
Fan Xian had no intention and interest to change this world. Yet, because this world was similar to his to a certain extent, he was very much interested in knowing the backstory of these events.
This train of thought was tempting, but he still couldn’t wrap his head around it. Tossing the newspaper aside, he chuckled silently and wondered if there may have been another person who might have came over from his world that might also be equally ambitious.
Whatever. These things do not concern him. The letter beside the newspaper, however, was a different story.
From what Fan Xian could remember, Fan Ruo-Ruo was the pitiful half-sister of his who lived in Danzhou City for a period of time many years ago.
It has already been many years since he has last seen her; he wonders what the little kid looks like now. Have the thin golden hair of hers turned black? (Whuuuut, why would anyone not want to be blonde? ~MCM) Has she gotten pretty? Fan Xian has even forgotten if his sister was called Fan Ruo, or is really named Fan Ruo-Ruo.
“I really am an incompetent brother,” he laughed. Even though he was a curious soul who had lived two lives, biologically, he was still that brat’s brother. It was wrong of him to have cared too little about her. Two years ago, when Fan Ruo just started school, she would often send letters to Danzhou port. However, because Fan Xian was training his potent inner energy, getting scolded by the blind Five-Bamboo and revising the book on Toxicology that Teacher Fei had left behind, he did not write much in reply.
Fan Ruo-Ruo should be ten years old now, yet, perhaps because the ghost stories left quite a big impression on her young mind, this genuine lady of the main Manor was pretty clingy towards her faraway brother. The letters were pretty frequent; the letters from the first half of the year still expressed her fond memories of life in Danzhou. The letters recently, though, have been mainly about what was happening at home or how boring it was to be living in the Capital.
Fan Xian gently thumbed across the letter, his beautiful face a mask of worry. (I have no idea why as well ~MCM)
The letter was written in his sister’s childishly careful handwriting. On it, she wrote about her life in the Capital lately. She had entered a school that only accepted young noblewomen. It seemed like a natural course of action for someone like her in this world.