Note: I am not picking up this series, just translating up to chapter 6. See Table of Contents for details.
Chapter 3: Please go amuse yourselves on the side
Bang, bangbang, bang, bangbang.
The night watchman rhythmically clacked his as he strolled through the streets. The sound traveled up to a tall, overhanging house, where Fang Yuan opened up his dry eyes and mused, it’s the fifth watch.
He’d spent much of last night lying in bed in deep thought as he planned a plethora of things. In the end, he’d only slept for a little more than two hours. This body hadn’t started cultivation yet, so it wasn’t very vigorous. Exhaustion and fatigue enveloped him. But after 500 years of experience, Fang Yuan had long developed a steel will. A little bit of sleepiness was nothing to him.
He immediately pushed aside the thin bedcovers and got up in one smooth motion. By the time he opened the windows, the spring rain had already stopped. The scent of wet earth, trees, and fragrant wildflowers were pure and fresh as they hit his face, clearing up his head. His befuddled drowsiness completely cleared up.
The sun hadn’t risen yet and the skies were a dark, deep blue, half bright half hazy. The house supported by bamboo and trees was connected to the mountains, contrasting against its quiet, peaceful greens. The house had at least two stories and was a unique dwelling for the people of the mountains. Because the terrain in the mountains was uneven, large wooden pillars made up the first floor, while the second floor was the real section where people lived. Fang Yuan and his little brother lived precisely on the second floor.
“Young master Fang Yuan, you’re awake. Your servant will come up now and help you wash up,” a young girl’s voice called out from below.
Fang Yuan looked down to see his personal servant girl Chen Cui. Her looks could only be considered slightly above average, but she arranged herself very well. She was dressed in green robes with long sleeves and trousers, and on her feet were embroidered shoes. Her black hair sported a pearl hair clasp. Overall, the impression she gave off was youthful and energetic. She gazed happily at Fang Yuan as she carried a basin of water to pedal upstairs.
The water was warm and used to wash his face. After rinsing his mouth, he used a willow twig dipped in ice salt to clean and whiten his teeth. Chen Cui served him gently, her face full of smiles and affection. Afterwards, she helped him get dressed up and buttoned, using plenty to chances to rub her ample chest against his arm or back.
Fang Yuan’s face remained expressionless, his heart like stagnant water.
This servant girl was not only his aunt and uncle’s informant, but also vain and selfish. In his last life he’d been tricked. When his standing fell after the Broadening Horizons Ceremony, she immediately pulled a and gave him no end of superior looks.
Fang Zheng arrived just in time to see Chen Cui smoothing out the folds in his shirt by his chest. He couldn’t help the flash of envy that flitted past his eyes. In all these years living with his big brother, he had a servant of his own as well. But she wasn’t a young girl like Chen Cui; rather, a fat and chubby old woman.
If Chen Cui could wait on me like that one day, what would it feel like? Fang Zheng could only half-dare to think. Aunt and uncle favored Fang Yuan, this was a fact known throughout the household. Originally, he had no servant at all until Fang Yuan took the initiative to demand it.
Although there were differences between masters and servants, Fang Zheng didn’t usually dare to look down upon this Chen Cui. That was because Chen Cui’s mother was the Chen mama who served by aunt’s side. Chen mama also managed all of the household affairs and had his aunt’s absolute trust, so she had considerable authority.
“All right, there’s no need to tidy up,” Fang Yuan couldn’t bear it anymore, and moved aside Chen Cui’s small, soft hands. His clothes had long been straightened out, so any more action would be just Chen Cui trying to seduce him.
As she saw it, it was very possible that he’d have bright prospects and Grade A latent talent. If she could become Fang Yuan’s concubine, she’d rise from the ranks of servitude to become a mistress of the house in her own right. In other words, it’d be reaching the Heavens in a single bound.
In his last life, Fang Yuan had been tricked by this servant and was even fond of her. Now he could see through her as clearly as blazing fire, enough to chill his heart until it turned frosty.
“You should withdraw,” Fang Yuan didn’t even look at Chen Cui as he adjusted his cuffs.
Chen Cui pouted, feeling both strange and slighted by Fang Yuan’s insensitivity today. She wanted act a little spoiled, but was too awed by Fang Yuan’s inexplicable aura. She opened her mouth a few times before finally saying “Yes,” and obediently retreating.
“Are you ready?” Fang Yuan looked towards Fang Zheng.
His little brother stood blankly by the doorway, head lowered to stare at his toes before murmuring a soft ‘hn’ in response. He had actually been awake since the fourth watch, too anxious to fall back asleep. Instead, he’d secretly gotten prepared far ahead of time so that dark circles framed his eyes.
Fang Yuan nodded his head. He might not have understood his little brother’s thoughts in his past life, but how couldn’t he be clear now? But there was no meaning in bluntly pointing it out, so he only instructed indifferently, “Then let’s go.”
Thus the two brothers left the house. Along the way, they met various people around the same age traveling in pairs or trios. It was obvious that all of them had the same destination.
“Look, those are the Fang brothers,” little threads of conversation flitted their way.
“The one in front is that Fang Yuan, the same one who composed those poems,” someone stressed.
“So it’s him. He’s expressionless and self-assured as if nobody’s watching. It’s really as the rumors say,” someone else sounded jealous and filled with envious admiration.
“Hmph, if you were like him, you could act like that too!” a person gave a cold snort in reply, hiding his displeasure.
Fang Zheng listened to everything with a wooden face, long used to such talk. He kept his head bowed as he followed behind his brother, walking silently. By now, the skies were starting to brighten with the light of the early dawn, casting Fang Yuan’s shadow onto his face. The sun was slowly rising, but Fang Zheng suddenly felt as if he was walking towards the darkness.
The source of the darkness came from his big brother. Perhaps, in this lifetime, he’d never be able to throw off his brother’s massive shadow. A heavy weight settled on his chest, making it hard for him to breathe. This despicable feeling could only be called “suffocating!”
Hmph, gossip like this is like wind blowing against the tallest tree. Fang Yuan’s heart held a cold smile as he listened to the commentary around them. No wonder he’d gained so many enemies after it was revealed he was only Grade C. For a long time afterwards, he had been the recipient of harsh rebukes, supercilious looks, and cold shoulders.
Behind him, he could hear his little brother Fang Zheng’s breathing grow more and more depressed. He hadn’t noticed in his first life, but now he as perceptive to the most minute details. All of this came from his 500 years of accumulated experience and sharp insight.
He suddenly thought of aunt and uncle. They really had tricks up their sleeves, sending him Chen Cui to monitor him while leaving his little brother with an old mama. There were other differences in their treatment as well. All of it was done on purpose to incite the grievance in his little brother’s heart and ruin friendly sentiments between the two brothers.
There was no shortage of troubles for a person, but the troubles were scattered about unevenly.
He had too much inexperience in his first life. His little brother had also been too foolish and naive, and that was why aunt and uncle had succeeded in sowing discord. In this new life, the Broadening Horizons Ceremony was right upon them. It seemed that bad old practices were insurmountable, but with Fang Yuan’s skills and wisdom in his demonic Way, things weren’t impossible to change.
He could thoroughly oppress his little brother into submission and take Chen Cui into his personal harem. As for aunt, uncle, and the clan Elders, he could face off against them with hundreds of different schemes.
But I don’t want to do things that way… Fang Yuan mused leisurely in his heart. So what if this was his own brother? Without familial affections, they were simply strangers. Abandoning him was just abandoning him.
As for Chen Cui, no matter how pretty she looked, what was the use without a loving and loyal heart? She’d just be a tool. Accept her into his harem? She wasn’t worthy.
So what if they were his aunt and uncle or clan Elders? All of them were passing travelers on the road of life. Why rack his brains to waste energy scheming against these passerby?
As long as you’re not in my way, you can go amuse yourselves on the side. It’s not worth my time to trample you.
 fifth watch (五更) – wu geng, the night watch just before dawn.
 Chen Cui (沉翠) – Chen means “to sink, heavy, deep/profound,” Cui is “emerald green, kingfisher,” or “jadeite.”
 mama (嬷嬷) – not mother, but a term of address for an elderly woman or a wet nurse. Also pronounced as “momo.”
 wind blowing against the tallest tree (木秀于林风必催之) – muxiu yulin feng bi cuizhi, a saying attributed to Li Kang of Wei during the Three Kingdoms era. Its words more or less means that the one who sticks out gets attention and attacked first.