Joy of Life

Chapter 2

Chapter 2: Story Time

Translator: Nyoi_Bo_Studio Editor: Nyoi_Bo_Studio

Danzhou Harbor lay to the east of the state of Qing, near the sea. Since the recent completion of the ports in the South, and with the sea route to the West that was opened up early on, the state’s center of trade had moved south. As a result, Danzhou Harbor was gradually forgotten. The formerly bustling port had quieted down years ago.

Seagulls flew freely, no longer harassed by annoying sailors.

The local residents of Danzhou Harbor, on the other hand, had not experienced much change in their lives. Although their income had decreased, the emperor had been exempting them from paying taxes for years, and they continued to lead comfortable lives. Not to mention that the seaport was very beautiful and, now quiet, it naturally became more livable.

Once in a while, some big name would come to Danzhou Harbor and build a manor.

However, as it was so far from the imperial capital, few of the officials really settled down there. Perhaps only the old lady who lived in the house to the west of the city could be counted as one.

It was said that the old lady was the mother of Count Sinan, and moved to Danzhou Harbor in her retirement. Everyone in the city knew that Count Sinan was favored by His Majesty. He was never dispatched in accordance with normal practice, but stayed in the imperial capital and worked with the Treasury Department. So, most residents showed sufficient politeness and respect to the house.

Children, however, did not understand these things.

It was a sunny day. The adults were sitting in the pub, enjoying the salty moisture carried in by the sea breeze, eating brined plums and drinking liquor from goblets.

A crowd of teenagers surrounded the stone steps outside the back door of Count Sinan’s estate in the western part of the city.

Approaching them, a funny scene would be revealed, as the teens were listening to a small kid of four or five years old.

The small boy was adorable, with eyebrows that seemed painted on and a pair of bright eyes. Though his voice was childish, the tone of his speech was as mature as an adult.

Heaving a sigh, he made a gesture with his small arms and continued, “Truman walked toward the wall and found a ladder. He climbed the ladder, step by step, and found a door. He pushed the door open and went out….”

“And then?”

“And then? Then…he was free again,” the small kid pouted, appearing impatient that the teens would ask such a basic question.

“You must be kidding? Why didn’t he…that Chris….”

“Christof,” interrupted another teen.

“Yes. Why didn’t Truman beat up Christof to vent his anger? He had been imprisoned for years.”

The small kid shrugged and said, “No.”

“Hush! So boring. Young Master Fan Xian, today’s story is not as interesting as the one from a couple days ago.”

“Then, what kind of stories do you like?”

“An Ethereal Journey.”

“A Great Epic.”

“Hush!” said the small kid called Fan Xian, extending his middle finger at the bigger teens around him. He admonished, “Fighting and killing are unhealthy, digging all over for treasure makes nature unwell.”

Suddenly, a furious shout came from the courtyard, “Young master, where are you!?”

Imitating his gesture, all the teens flashed their middle fingers, a most spectacular sight because of the large number of kids. They made a collective “Hush!” and ran away with laughter.

The small child, Fan Xian, stood up from the stone steps, patted the dust off his rear, turned around, and ran into the courtyard. Before he closed the door, he glanced with his clever eyes at the young, blind boss of the grocery store across from the house, displaying a complexity of emotion that did not match his age. He then gently closed the door.

It had been four years since Fan Shen had come to this world. During that time, he gradually came to the realization that he was not dreaming. He truly did arrive in an unknown world. In some ways, this world appeared the same as the one he remembered, but in others, it was not the same at all.

Overhearing the gossip of the servants in the count estate, he had finally deciphered his identity. He was the bastard son of the capital’s Count Sinan.

In stereotypical stories of rich and powerful families, a bastard son was easily hated and persecuted by the wife and concubines. His honorable father, who had no real power, seems to have had only one son. To carry on the family lineage, Fan Shen was sent to Danzhou Harbor, far away from the capital.

Over the years, he had become accustomed to his identity. Still, the soul of an adult trapped in the body of a child has to withstand experiences completely different both physically and psychologically. A normal person would probably go insane. Luckily, in his previous life, Fan Shen was bedridden for many years due to a neuromuscular disease called myasthenia gravis. Compared with his miserable former life, the slight difficulty in moving now was nothing at all. Though living in the body of a child, he had adapted well to his current life.

What he was most unaccustomed to was his name. At the age of one, the Count sent a letter and gave him the name Fan Xian and the style name Anzhi.

It was not a good name. In the dialect of his hometown, it sounded like a curse, meaning “freak.”

His form being that of a mere baby at the time, he had no way to express his opposition using words.

At the start of his hospital treatment in his former life, Fan Shen could move his head. He often begged the cute nurse to buy him pirated DVDs and books.

Living in the Count’s home, he learned that the Countess was a kind woman with a reputation for coldness. In fact, she cared for Fan Xian very much. The servants never treated him differently for being born a bastard. However, he was still upset because he could not communicate with anyone.

How could he tell the servant girls that he came from another world? How could he tell his teacher that he could read every character in his books?

So, he often snuck out the side door to play with the non-royal children. Much of the time, he regaled them with stories from the movies and novels of his homeworld.

It seemed that he wanted to remind himself of something. He wanted to remind himself that he did not belong to this world. In the other world, he had movies, Internet and porn.

He didn’t know why he told the kids about The Truman Show today. With its unsuspecting plot and without the charming Jim Carrey, he should have known that the youth of Danzhou Harbor would not like it at all.

But he told the story anyway.

Deep in his heart, he felt his situation to be ridiculous—why would he suddenly, so close to death, be reborn in this new body? He couldn’t help but think of that movie…maybe the people on the streets and the seagulls in the sky were props?

Just like The Truman Show.

Truman finally realized that his reality was fake. He resolutely sailed until his boat punctured the wall of the dome, and he found an exit door.

But Fan Shen—no, Fan Xian—knew that he was not Truman. This world was real, not some huge movie set.

So he found himself telling stories every day to remind himself that he belonged to another world. How ridiculous it all was!

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