Chapter 6: The Pillow
Translator: Nyoi_Bo_Studio Editor: Nyoi_Bo_Studio
Although Fan Xian was only four years old physically, he carried a grown man’s soul within him. The bloodshed that had surrounded him on the day of his birth into this world was imprinted upon his mind and had always weighed upon him heavily. He knew that one day, his own mysterious past would catch up with him.
It seemed that today was that day.
His sneak attack had not been successful. His pathetic tears, intended to confuse this unexpected visitor, were of no use now. He quickly racked his brains in search of a means of escape.
If he cried out, his assailant would make short work of him. Currently, the man wasn’t moving – he was clearly still confused by Fan Xian crying out “Papa!”
Seeing that his sneak attack had been ineffective, Fan Xian decided to rely on the innate advantage of his youth. He looked up into the visitor’s eyes and wailed: “Papa! Papa…!”
As tears streamed down his face, he nervously continued to plot his escape.
“It’s no use pretending, young Master Fan.” The visitor’s tone was indifferent, and yet seemingly without a trace of menace. “You’re a smart one, it seems. Quite an instinct for self-preservation for one so young. But it should be quite obvious to you that I am not Count Sinan.”
The night visitor gestured with the knife in his hand, and then moved toward Fan Xian.
Fan Xian’s face remained streaked with perfectly innocent tears, but his heart pounded. “Who are you?” he sobbed fitfully.
“Your father sent me to find you. So don’t scream.”
The night visitor’s eyes were tiny, brown, and not particularly pleasant to look upon. The wrinkles in the corners betrayed his age, and his manner of speaking reminded Fan Xian of dirty old men who tried to trick the young servant girls into relinquishing their maidenhood.
But Fan Xian didn’t give anything away, and he perfectly played the role of a frightened child, startled and slightly angered.
“You’re not my papa!”
Then, as if he hadn’t seen the knife in his assailant’s hand, he turned tail and climbed up on the bed, grumbling. “I don’t even know what my papa looks like.”
The man laughed darkly, advancing toward the bed.
Suddenly, turning around and looking behind the visitor, Xian’s eyes flashed with surprise as he shouted out, “Mama!”
It wasn’t exactly a great diversion. He would have not been fooled had anyone else tried it. After all, the night visitor was a great master who owned an entire laboratory in the capital.
But as he had no reason to suspect this young boy of trickery, the night visitor believed him when he heard his cry out “Mama!”
The night visitor’s face betrayed a look of shock as he whipped his head around to look.
Of course, behind him was only a tightly-closed door and the deep dark night.
A thwack! echoed throughout the bedroom.
His head covered in blood, the man fell to the floor.
In his hand, Fan Xian held a chunk of the porcelain pillow. Still rattled, Fan Xian looked down at the man, gripping the severed chunk of porcelain tightly. He gritted his teeth, raised his arm, and brought it down full-force upon his attacker’s head.
There was a sickening thud. Despite the fact that this night visitor was a grand master, he’d be out of it for a while thanks to the blow from that pillow.
A servant-girl’s voice arose from outside. “What was that?”
“It was nothing! I dropped a cup. We’ll clear it up tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow? If Young Master steps on it, then what will we do?”
“I said we’ll deal with it tomorrow!”
Hearing such a forceful response from the usually gentle and innocent young lad, the servant girl decided not to press the matter.
Fan Xian went back to one side of the wardrobe, and with some difficulty, pulled out a heavy winter quilt. He tore it up into strips with his fingers, twisted it, and securely tied up the man who lay on the floor.
At this point, he discovered that his back was soaked in cold sweat.
A sudden fear gripped him: This was the first time he’d ever tried to kill someone, in either his previous life or this one. He wasn’t sure whether he’d actually killed the man or not, but he’d taken a great risk – if this man was a skilled fighter, then Fan Xian’s own little life would have undoubtedly been snuffed out.
Passing his hand over the night visitor’s cloth-covered face, he found that he was still breathing. He wasn’t sure why, but he suddenly got it in his head that he should do his visitor in for good.
It seemed he had become so hard-hearted after his rebirth – he was almost ready to do something so heartless, without even the slightest hesitation.
He was unaware that deep within his heart, he saw himself as someone who had already died once. His rebirth in this world was a particularly precious gift, and he would not allow anyone to threaten his life.
It was a simple principle: just as one can only realize the strength of wine after one gets drunk, one can only know the value of life after one has died.
Gripping the knife in his hand, he pondered. He still wasn’t sure whether he should kill this nighttime visitor who lay on the floor. Suddenly, he thought of someone, and a smile crept across his face. Quietly, he pushed open the door, and crawling through a hole that the dogs used to come in and out, he came to the shop that stood on the street corner outside the Count’s compound.
Tap tap tap. He knocked gently on the shop’s door, his voice low so that no one else in Danzhou could hear him in the night.
But Fan Xian knew that the person inside would hear the knocking. Although he pretended not to know him for the past four years, when things came to a head, Fan Xian thought of him as the only person he could trust.
“Who is it?” The vendor’s dull and emotionless voice came from the shop.
Fan Xian wondered if this man really was the same as he was outside the capital years ago, meticulous in all his affairs. He rolled his eyes, and in a quiet voice he responded, “it’s Fan Xian.”
Sure enough, the wooden shop door opened without a sound, and the blind youngster stood at the doorway like a ghost, startling him.
Fan Xian looked at the person who had brought him to Danzhou Harbor. He looked at this man with, with cheeks that seemed untouched by time these past four years and eyes covered by a length of black cloth, and he couldn’t help but wonder: How was it that this man hadn’t aged at all?