(T/N reminder: “Chou” means “ugly.” “A-” is put before names as a term of endearment or familiarity, and is pronounced “ah.”)
(T/N Reminder: please read the warning tags on novelupdates before proceeding!)
A-Chou sat still. He had just helped the brothel in front of him unclog their sewer and toilet, earning a few copper coins. He was thinking about buying something to eat, and had no interest in the boss beckoning him.
“Even A-Chou won’t look at your dirty man!” The onlookers heckled again.
The boss had embarrassed himself, and glanced at two of the compound’s guards.
A guard understood tacitly and kicked the criminal slave on the ground. “Are you dead?”
The guilty slave suffered the blow and choked, then coughed twice. He tried to kneel up to crawl from the snow, but had no strength. After struggling a few times, his body could not move.
“It’s all rotten underneath,” someone saw behind the criminal slave’s lower body and said with disgust.
“A-Chou is rotten too,” someone else replied, “aren’t these two just right for each other, neither disgusting the other?”
Everyone laughed heartily. A-Chou was just a beggar, and this criminal slave did not even count as a human being. When humans faced these two, the deep-rooted unkindness in their nature would rear its head. These two were not of the same species, so there was no need to care.
“Playing dead!” The guard kicked the criminal slave several times in succession towards A-Chou’s direction.
The guilty slave vomited blood out of his mouth again and still said nothing. He allowed the two guards to kick him as if he were a broken sack on the ground.
Faint tracks of blood appeared in the snow; some people roared with laughter, some shouted abuse, and some soft-hearted ones finally couldn’t look anymore and turned to leave.
“Look at yourself!” The boss stopped the two guards and said to the criminal slave, “If you die not even ghosts would want to be your neighbor! Even if you were hacked to pieces you still couldn’t become clean, can you still count as a human?”
“This slave is actually a person?” someone shouted. “How come I can’t see it?”
Several spat on the criminal slave, but the criminal slave did not react.
“Shut him in a dog cage,” the boss said to the guards. “Now only my dogs are willing to touch him.”
The criminal slave dazedly let the guards grab his hair and drag him into the Pleasure Compound. His face tilted in the direction of the beggar named A-Chou, and his gaze held a trace of pleading but then immediately again fell into numbness. He didn’t know why, but after dragging him away a few steps, the guards loosened their grip and stopped walking.
“A-Chou, do you want this criminal slave?”
The guilty slave heard someone talking. He turned his head slightly, and saw a pair of feet in straw sandals with their toes exposed in the front and heels exposed in the back, frostbitten and leaking yellow liquid.
“If you want him, I will send him to you to play with for a few days,” the boss said.
A-Chou nodded to the boss. He did not drag the criminal slave away, instead carrying him up.
“A-Chou,” said a little rogue who idled away his life in the red-light district, “this person isn’t even a dog, you really don’t find it dirty!”
A-Chou lowered his head. The arms he held the guilty slave with were a bit strained, and his feet were not too agile either. He half-dragged him away on the snowy ground. The guilty slave smelled the scent of herbal medicine on A-Chou’s body. This smell had caused that entire body to fester, and that face had rotted to the point that it was impossible to discern its original appearance. A-Chou’s smell was not actually unpleasant; it was at least more bearable than the guilty slave’s own odor.
“Send it back to me after playing for a few days,” the boss shouted from behind them.
The onlookers let loose another great wave of laughter.
A-Chou expended great effort to carry the guilty slave along the long street of the red-light district, until they reached a back alley–or at least, what seemed to be a back alley. This alley was nestled between two pleasure houses, so narrow that two people could not walk side-by-side within it. A-Chou pressed his body against the walls to enter. At the end of this alley, there was a half-collapsed, decrepit little house. The half left of its grass roof propped on its earth walls allowed people to deceive themselves that this house could still cover its inhabitant for one more period of wind and rain.
The criminal slave sat on a pile of rice straw, only wearing a single unlined garment. Wind swept in from all sides of the room, but he was so frozen cold that he was not aware. He absentmindedly stared at A-Chou, who stood before him.
A-Chou also looked at the criminal slave. His throat had already been poisoned to festering, and he could not speak, only gesturing to the guilty slave with his hands.
The guilty slave couldn’t understand A-Chou’s hand gestures, but he already began to take off the remaining clothes hanging on him.
A-Chou hurriedly waved his hands at the criminal slave, while pulling the half-shed clothes back onto the criminal slave’s body.
The remaining eye of the criminal slave looked at A-Chou indifferently.
A-Chou turned around and left. A short time later, he carried some dried branches in and started a fire.
The criminal slave sat beside the fire and felt some warmth on his body, but familiar pain quickly attacked his entirety and clung to his bones like maggots, penetrating his viscera.
A-Chou saw the criminal slave curled in on himself in the straw and gestured to him again, then left.
The guilty slave shrunk his body into a ball. Being able to lie down like this could count as one of his best days. If he could stay like this until he died that would be good. He actually could not live for much longer. It was only that he did not know whether he would end up like the boss said, with no ghosts willing to be his neighbors. Then could he find a place to stay that did not even have ghosts?
When A-Chou came back with two buns, it was already early evening. The red-light district had hung its lanterns, and the sounds of music and dance from the pleasure houses on either side rose and fell in succession, echoing. The fire A-Chou made with dry branches already burned out, and the guilty slave still curled in on himself like a fetus in its mother’s womb. A-Chou set the buns in his hands down and went out to fetch the remaining firewood. He rekindled the fire in the broken house, bringing with him a bit of warmth.
The criminal slave was pushed awake by A-Chou. When he opened his eyes, he saw the roasted bun that A-Chou handed to him. He raised his head and looked up at A-Chou in disbelief. Is this for him to eat?
A-Chou stuffed the bun into the hands of the criminal slave. A clay pot missing part of its body sat on a frame atop the fire, stewing some chicken and duck bones A-Chou had picked up. A-Chou used a branch to stir the pot, and a meaty aroma drifted out.
The criminal slave opened his mouth, but couldn’t bite into the bun.
A-Chou brought the soup to a boil and poured a little in the lid of the pot. He took the bun from the criminal slave’s hand and dipped it in the soup until it softened, and then fed it to him. Late at night, the dead branches burned out. The two of them burrowed into the pile of possibly decades-old moldy rice straw.
The criminal slave stayed here like this with A-Chou. The two did not speak with each other, but they had a mutual understanding. A-Chou went out to find food, and the criminal slave could not walk, so he crawled out of the broken house and went to pick up anything that could kindle fire. A-Chou knew that the criminal slave feared cold, and would heat bricks in the fire and wrap them in rags for the slave to warm himself with. The criminal slave would also apply medicine on A-Chou. A-Chou carried with him medicine that could slow the pace of his festering. The criminal slave did not feel the medicine had use, but he saw that after its application the rotten yellow liquid that always leaked from A-Chou’s body would stop for a moment. Thus the criminal slave took applying medicine to A-Chou every day very seriously.
The criminal slave and A-Chou spent ten days together like this. They both worried that the boss of the Pleasure Compound would find them, but the boss didn’t come. They lived together in this broken house, which completely collapsed after one more snowfall.
When will this arc end so translator can stop suffering?? I want to read about Long Xuan getting his face slapped, not about festering butts and misery! hElp
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvT3ujMqn8o&list=PL3c5fklVB02MAdgBi0Cm1Ez5LzrZ-Qk4g&index=239 listened to this on loop the whole chapter to lighten the mood and remind me that this is just proof of LW x WL’s fated love and not pointless endless suffering. I wasn’t sure about Wei Lan as a love interest at first, but I’ve completely bought in now