Translated by K of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
When Lan WangJi came back, Wei WuXian had already counted to about one thousand and three hundred.
“One thousand three hundred sixty-nine, one thousand three hundred seventy, one thousand three hundred seventy-one…”
He lifted his leg again and again, the colorful shuttlecock bouncing around his foot. It flew high up in the air, dropped firmly, before shooting even higher and diving down again. It seemed as though a formless thread was connected to it, eternally preventing it from leaving a part of Wei WuXian’s body.
At the same time, a formless thread was fixed to the gazes of the children at the side.
And then he heard Wei WuXian count, “One thousand three hundred seventy-two, one thousand three hundred eighty-one…”
Lan WangJi, “…”
Under the shower of the children’s admiration, Wei WuXian cheated just like that. On the other hand, the enormous number had already stripped the sniffling children of their judgement, so much that not a single one of them noticed what was wrong. Lan WangJi watched with his own eyes as Wei WuXian kicked his way from seventy-two to eighty-one, then from eighty-one to ninety. Just as he was about to make another leap, Wei WuXian just so happened to catch sight of Lan WangJi. His eyes brightened, as if he was about to call his name. With a blunder in his force, the bright-feathered shuttlecock flew past his head and plunged behind Wei WuXian’s back.
Seeing that he was about to miss, he hastened to make a backwards kick, saving it with the heel of his foot. The last kick went the highest, accompanied by a reverberating, “One thousand six hundred!” The children all exclaimed with astonishment, clapping with all their might.
The outcome was clear. A little girl screamed, “One thousand six hundred! He won, you lost!”
In high spirits, Wei WuXian accepted the victory without a sliver of doubt. Lan WangJi lifted his hands as well, letting out a few claps.
However, one of the boys furrowed his brows, biting his finger, “I feel like… something’s not right.”
Wei WuXian, “What’s not right?”
The boy, “Why would it be another hundred right after ninety? Something’s definitely wrong.”
It seemed that the children had already split into two factions. One of them was clearly already under Wei WuXian’s influence, nagging, “That’s impossible. You’re just unwilling to accept your defeat.”
Wei WuXian also theorized, “Why wouldn’t it be another hundred after ninety? Count it out yourself. What’s after nine?”
With much difficulty, the boy fumbled with his fingers for a while, “… Seven, eight, nine, ten…”
Immediately, Wei WuXian interrupted, “Look, ten comes after nine, so a hundred must come after ninety.”
The boy was still unsure, “… Really? I don’t think so??”
Wei WuXian, “How come? If you don’t believe me, let’s ask someone on the streets.”
He looked around for a moment before slapping his leg, “Oh hey, I found one. You, Young Master, who looks extremely reliable. Please wait a moment!”
And thus, Lan WangJi waited, “What is it?”
Wei WuXian, “Could I please ask you a question?”
Lan WangJi, “Yes.”
Wei WuXian asked, “Excuse me, but what comes after ninety?”
Lan WangJi, “A hundred.”
Wei WuXian saluted him, “Thank you.”
Lan WangJi nodded, “You are welcome.”
Grinning, Wei WuXian nodded as well, turning around to face the boy, “You see?”
The boy didn’t really trust the snickering Wei WuXian, but looking at Lan WangJi, he felt a deep sense of awe toward such a young master, whose clothes were white as snow, sword was adorned with jade, and features were so handsome that he almost looked like a deity. His wavering heart was immediately persuaded, mumbling, “So that’s how you count…”
The children chirped, “One thousand six hundred to three hundred—you lost!”
The boy was stubborn, “It’s my loss, then.” As he spoke, he handed the stick of sugared haws to Wei WuXian, his voice loud, “You won! Here, for you!”
After the children had left, Wei WuXian spoke up, holding the stick of haws in his mouth, “HanGuang-Jun, you really saved me some face.”
Lan WangJi finally walked to his side, “Apologies for the wait.”
Wei WuXian shook his head, “Not at all, not at all. You’ve been gone for just a while. I’d only kicked the shuttlecock for a bit more than three hundred times.”
Lan WangJi, “One thousand six hundred.”
Wei WuXian laughed out loud, biting off one of the haws. Lan WangJi was about to speak again when something cold touched his lips, leaving a sweet taste on his tongue. Wei WeiXian had stuffed the remaining stick of haws into his mouth.
Noticing his unusual expression, Wei WuXian asked, “Do you eat sweet things?”
Holding the haws in his mouth, Lan WangJi neither ate it nor spat it out, unable to say anything. Wei WuXian, “If you don’t, I’ll have it.” He grabbed the thin stick of the haws, wanting to take it back, but he couldn’t pull it out even after a few tries. It seemed that Lan WangJi had bit into it with his teeth. Wei WuXian grinned, “So are you going to eat it or not?”
Lan WangJi bit off a haw as well, “I am.”
Wei WuXian, “That’s more like it. Just say it if you want some. You’ve really been like this ever since you were young, holding everything in and never saying what you want.”
After he laughed for a while, the two sauntered into the town.
Wei WuXian had always been mischievous and greedy while he was out on the streets. He ran quickly and wanted everything. When he saw something interesting, he had to give it a few squeezes, or when he sniffed the mouth-watering smoke that wafted by, he had to get some and try it out. Under his encouragement, Lan WangJi also tried some snacks he would never even have touched. When he finished them, Wei WuXian would always ask, “How was it? How was it?” Sometimes, Lan WangJi replied ‘fine’, while other times he replied ‘excellent’, yet more often than not he replied ‘strange’. Every time this happened, Wei WuXian would laugh and take it, not letting him have anymore.
They originally intended to find somewhere for lunch, but Wei WuXian ate all the way from the West to the East, filling his stomach. At the end, he was lazy even in walking, and the two found a decent soup shop to and sat down to have some soup.
Wei WuXian played with the sliced radish as he ate, waiting for the pork ribs and lotus root soup that he ordered. As he saw Lan WangJi stand up, he asked in surprise, “What are you doing?”
Lan WangJi, “I will be back soon.” And as he said, he came back just a bit after he left. The soup happened to arrive as well. Wei WuXian took a sip. After the waiter went, he whispered to Lan WangJi, “It’s not good.”
Lan WangJi tried a spoonful, having only a slight taste, “How so?”
Wei WuXian stirred his spoon in his bowl, “The lotus can’t be too hard. It’d be better if it were pinker. The place is a bit shy with the seasoning. It hadn’t been boiled long enough and the flavors hadn’t been soaked in properly. Anyhow, it’s not as good as my shijie’s.”
He was only making casual remarks, thinking that Lan WangJi would at most listen and respond with a few mn’s. Yet, he not only listened keenly, but even asked, “How should the seasoning be? How can the flavors be soaked in?”
Wei WuXian finally noticed something, amused, “HanGuang-Jun, you’re not thinking of making me lotus soup, are you? Just now, did you go to watch the process?”
Before Lan WangJi even answered, he already began to laugh at him, “Haha, HanGuang-Jun, I’m really not trying to look down on you, but nobody in your sect ever does any work in the kitchen, and on top of that your tastebuds grew up with that kind of food. I doubt anything you make can even make it past the eyes.”
Lan WangJi had another sip of his soup, neither confirming nor denying it. Wei WuXian was still waiting for him to respond, yet he was as firm as a mountain. He finally couldn’t wait any longer.
With a thick face, he asked again, “Lan Zhan, did you really mean that you want to cook for me?”
Surprisingly, Lan WangJi was quite calm. He said neither ‘yes’ nor ‘no’.
Wei WuXian was beginning to grow desperate. He sprang up, his hands propper up on the corners of the table, “Say something, won’t you?”
Lan WangJi, “Mn.”
Wei WuXian, “So is that a yes or a no? Lan Zhan, my dear, I said that all to tease you. If you’re really gonna cook for me, even if you burn a hole in the bottom of the pan, I’d eat the pan right in front of your face.”
Lan WangJi, “That would not be necessary.”
Wei WuXian was about to jump onto his lap and beg, “So are you gonna cook or not? Cook, please, HanGuang-Jun, I’ll eat it!”
Without a change in his expression, Lan WangJi steadied Wei WuXian’s back, “Posture.”
Wei WuXian warned, “Er-Gege, you can’t treat me like this.”
Finally, under all the pestering, Lan WangJi couldn’t keep his cool any longer. He held his hand, “I have already.”
“Huh?” Wei WuXian was surprised, “You’ve cooked for me already? When? What did you make? How come I don’t remember?”
Lan WangJi, “The sect banquet.”
“…” Wei WuXian, “That night, the dishes I thought you bought from the Hunan place at Caiyi Town, you made them with your own hands?”
Lan WangJi, “Mn.”
Wei WuXian was aghast.
He asked, “You were the one who made them? Such a thing as the kitchen exists in the Cloud Recesses?”
“… Of course.”
“You washed and cut the vegetables? You poured the oil into the pan? You added the seasoning?”
Wei WuXian was absolutely speechless. In the end, one hand grabbing Lan WangJi’s collar and another hugging his neck, he gave him a fierce kiss.
Luckily, the two always chose the most obscure places to sit, right next to the wall. Holding him, Lan WangJi turned around, making it so that others could only his back as well as the arm Wei WuXian wrapped around his neck.
Seeing how unflustered he was, Wei WuXian reached out and touched, feeling warmth as expected. Lan WangJi caught his mischievous hand, warning him, “Wei Ying.”
Wei WuXian, “I’m right here on your lap, am I not? What are you calling my name for?”
Wei WuXian responded, his expression serious this time, “I’m sorry. I was just too happy. Lan Zhan, how come you’re so good at everything? You’re amazing even when it comes to cooking!”
His praise was of utmost sincerity. Lan WangJi had heard countless compliments from when he was a child, but not a single one of them were able to make it so hard to stop the corners of his lips from blooming into a smile. He only pretended to be calm, “It was no difficult task.”
Wei WuXian, “No. It is. You don’t know how many times I’ve been chased out of the kitchen.”
“…” Lan WangJi, “Have you burnt a hole in the bottom of the pan?”
Wei WuXian, “Just once. I forgot to add water, but who would’ve known the pan would start burning? Don’t look at me like that. It was just once, really.”
Lan WangJi, “What did you put inside the pan?”
Wei WuXian thought about it for a moment, smiling, “How could I remember something from so long ago so clearly? Forget about it.”
Lan WangJi didn’t comment, but he seemed to have slightly lifted his brow. Wei WuXian pretended as though he didn’t notice the miniscule expression. Suddenly recalling something, he threw his hands up in regret, “But back then why didn’t you tell me you were the one who made them? I was an idiot. I didn’t even eat all that much.”
Lan WangJi, “Do not worry. I can make more when we return.”
After so long, this was the only thing Wei WuXian had been waiting for. He immediately started beaming, not even finding fault in his soup any longer.
They left the restaurant, and the two strolled for a while. Clamor came from ahead of them. Many people surrounded an area covered in small objects, tossing small hoops onto the ground one after another.
Wei WuXian, “This one’s nice.” He grabbed Lan WangJi and took three hoops from the vendor, “Lan Zhan, have you played this before?”
Lan WangJi shook his head. Wei WuXian, “You haven’t even played this before? Let me explain. It’s really simple. Take this hoop, walk a bit backwards, and toss it onto the things on the ground. Whatever it lands on is yours.”
Lan WangJi repeated, “Whatever it lands on is mine.”
Wei WuXian, “That’s it. Which one do you want? I’ll get you whichever one you want.”
Lan WangJi, “Any.”
Wei WuXian propped his elbow on his shoulder, tugging the tail of his forehead ribbon, “It’s a bit embarrassing for you to treat me so casually, isn’t it?”
Lan WangJi replied sincerely, “I want whichever one you get.”
Wei WuXian paused, astonished, “Look at you. What are you doing, in front of all these people?”
Lan WangJi, “What?”
Wei WuXian, “You’re flirting with me.”
Lan WangJi’s expression was calm, “I am not.”
Wei WuXian, “You are! Fine, then I’ll get you… that one, how about that one?”
He was pointing at a big, white turtle made of porcelain placed far away. As he spoke, he took a few steps back, all the way until he was four yards away. The vendor yelled, gesturing, “You’re good, you’re good!”
However, Wei WuXian replied, “Not yet, not yet.”
The vendor shouted, “Young Master, you’re standing too far. This way you won’t be able to get any. Don’t blame it on me for milking your money, then!”
Wei WuXian, “If I don’t stand far, you just might lose yours!”
The crowd laughed, “What a confident young master he is!”
The trick seemed simple on the surface, but there was, in reality, some distance between every item. The control over the exerted force that was required wasn’t easy for ordinary people. However, to cultivators, it didn’t pose a challenge at all. If he didn’t back away further, what would be the fun in it? Wei WuXian went quite far back, even going as far as to turn around with his back facing the vendor. The crowd laughed even more. Yet, the next second, Wei WuXian weighed the hoop and made a backhanded toss. The hoop landed right on the porcelain turtle’s shell, landing around its head.
Both the vendor and the others were left speechless. Wei WuXian turned around with a grin, gesturing Lan WangJi toward the remaining two hoops in his hand, “You want to try?”
Lan WangJi, “Yes.”
He walked beside Wei WuXian, “Which one do you want?”
Nothing of high quality would be sold at the small, street-side businesses. They were mostly filled with little objects that were adequately put together and looked decent from afar. The porcelain turtle that Wei WuXian got was already the best looking one out of the bunch. Wei WuXian looked around the scene. The more he looked, the more he felt that every one of them was ugly and that he didn’t want any of them, finding the decision difficult. Suddenly, he saw a stuffed donkey that was extremely ugly, so ugly that one wouldn’t even be able to ignore it when glancing across. He beamed, “That one’s good. It looks like Lil’ Apple. There, there—get that one.”
Lan WangJi nodded. He stood four yards further than Wei WuXian and turned around as well. The hoop landed on it perfectly.
The crowd cheered and clapped. Lan Wangji turned around to look at Wei WuXian who leaped inside with laughter and seized the donkey, carrying it under his armpit as he clapped the loudest, “Again, again!”
There was another hoop in Lan WangJi’s hand. Holding it, he weighed it gently yet firmly. This time, he only tossed it backward a moment later, and he immediately turned around to check.
After he tosse, exclamations came from all around him. The hoop was so off that it didn’t even touch the edge of the area. Despite this, it landed without fault on and around Wei WuXian’s body.
Wei WuXian was first surprised before he broke into laughter. Although everyone felt that it was too much a pity, they nevertheless reassured them, “Not bad!” “Yeah, you got quite a few.” “You’re already amazing!”
Relieved, the vendor rolled his eyes and sighed, jumping up with his thumb sticking out, “Yeah, you’re absolutely spectacular. You definitely weren’t lying, Young Master. A few more, and I’d really start losing money!”
Wei WuXian laughed, “Enough, I know you wouldn’t dare let us play any longer. We’ve also had enough, right? Lan Zhan, let’s go, let’s go.”
The vendor replied gladly, “Take care!”
Even as the two disappeared into the bustling crowd, shoulder-to-shoulder, did he finally remember, “The third hoop! They never gave it back to me!!”
After walking for a while, with the turtle in his left arm and donkey under his right, Wei WuXian asked, “Lan Zhan, how come I never realized you’re so creative?”
Lan WangJi took the heavy porcelain turtle from his hand. Wei WuXian removed the hoop from his neck and put it over his head, “Don’t pretend like you don’t know what I’m talking about. I know you did it on purpose.”
Lan WangJi held the turtle in one hand, “Where will we place this when we return?”
Wei WuXian really didn’t know the answer to this one.
The turtle was big and heavy, its craftsmanship far from good. With a bulky head, it could just barely be described as adorably silly. But with a closer look, Wei WuXian realized that its creator was truly careless. It looked as if it was cross-eyed, its pupils beady. In any case, no matter how he looked at it, it was just too incompatible with the Cloud Recesses. Where they could put it was a real problem indeed.
Wei WuXian thought about it for a moment, “The Jingshi?”
Just as he finished, he shook his head, rejecting his own idea, “The Jingshi is only suitable for playing the guqin and burning incense. Such a peaceful place filled with the scent of sandalwood would look awful with the big turtle.”
When Lan WangJi heard him say that the Jingshi was ‘a peaceful place only suitable for playing the guqin and burning incense’, he glanced at him, as though he wanted to say something but didn’t.
Wei WuXian continued, “But if we don’t put it in the Jingshi and choose anywhere else in the Cloud Recesses, it’d probably be thrown out immediately.”
Lan WangJi nodded in silence.
Wei WuXian hesitated for a long while. In the end, he wasn’t so shameless as to say ‘let’s put it into your uncle’s room, but not tell him we did it.’ Smacking his leg, he had an idea, “I’ve got it. Let’s put it in the Lanshi.”
Lan WangJi thought for a bit before asking, “Why the Lanshi?”
Wei WuXian, “Now you don’t get it, do you? Put it in the Lanshi, and when you’re teaching SiZhui, JingYi, and the others, if they ask you about it, you can tell them that the turtle was created by the hands of a mysterious craftsman in memory of you killing the Xuanwu of slaughter. It holds a deep meaning, aiming to motivate the GusuLan Sect’s disciples in admiring their senior’s feat and striving forward. Even though the Black Tortoise* of Slaughter is gone, there’ll definitely be the Vermillion Bird of Carnage, the White Tiger of Brutality, the Azure Dragon of Bloodlust, and so on, waiting for them. They must perform great things that surpass their predecessors and amaze the world.”
TN: The Xuanwu, or the Black Tortoise, is one of the Four Symbols in Chinese constellations, also known as the Four Guardians or the Four Gods. The other three include the Vermillion Bird, the White Tiger, and the Azure Dragon.
“So how about it?”
A moment later, Lan WangJi replied, “Excellent.”
And so, a few days later, when Lan SiZhui, Lan JingYi, and the others were in HanGuang-Jun’s class, they saw a rough, dull-eyed turtle made of porcelain lying on the desk behind Lan WangJi, every time they looked up.
But because of some unknown astonishment, not a single person dared to ask why it was there. That, however, would be another story…
After storing the loot into the qiankun sleeves, the two retreated victoriously.
Before they came, Wei WuXian praised the beauty of the characteristic lotus leaves that stretched as far as the eye could see for quite a long time, so of course he’d drag Lan WangJi on a tour of the lakes. He wanted to find a luxuriously-decorated touring boat for some occasional extravagance, but even after searching for a while, he could only find a small, wooden boat, hanging by the lake. Floating on the water, it seemed so weak that it’d sink with just a soft kick. It seemed a bit two difficult to stuff two full-grown men inside, but they weren’t left with a second choice.
Wei WuXian, “You sit on this end, and I’ll sit on the other. Be still and don’t move around. If we’re not careful, the boat’s gonna tip.”
Lan WangJi, “Do not worry. I can save you if you fall.”
Wei WuXian, “The way you said it, it sounded almost as if I didn’t know how to swim.”
The boat drifted past, brushing against the voluptuous lotus blossoms, each petal pink and full. Wei WuXian lie within the boat, using his arm as a pillow. Because the boat was truly tiny, his legs were almost resting on Lan WangJi’s body. Toward such a brazen, ill-mannered posture, Lan WangJi didn’t say anything either.
The gentle breeze swept over the tranquil waves. Wei WuXian, “It’s blooming season right now. Too bad the seed pods aren’t ready yet, or else I could take you to pick lotus seed pods.”
Lan WangJi, “We can come again.”
Wei WuXian, “Yes! We can come again.”
Casually rowing the boat, Wei WuXian stared into the distance for a while, “There used to be an old man who planted lotus seed pods around the area. He seems to be gone now.”
Lan WangJi, “Mn.”
Wei WuXian, “He was already quite old when I was young, and it’s already been over a dozen years. Even if he hasn’t passed away yet, he’d probably be too old to walk or row a boat.”
He turned around to face Lan WangJi, “Back then, in the Cloud Recesses, when I urged you to visit me at Lotus Pier, I especially wanted you to come steal lotus seed pods at his place. Do you know why?”
Toward Wei WuXian, Lan WangJi always answered every question, heeded every request. In all earnesty, he responded, “I do not. Why?”
Wei WuXian winked his left eye at him, grinning, “Because the old man was incredible at hitting people with his wooden pole. When it hit, it felt way worse than the punishment rulers of your sect. Back then I thought that I had to trick Lan Zhan over and have him take a few blows as well.”
Hearing this, Lan WangJi smiled. All of the moon’s cold, reflected lustre melted in his eyes.
In the instant, Wei WuXian felt his head whirl dizzily. Involuntarily, the smile rippled onto his face as well.
He began, “Fine, I’ll admit it…”
With a loud crash, everything went upside-down, sending up splashes a couple of feet high. The boat had tipped over.
Wei WuXian broke through the water, wiping his face, “I just told you to sit still and not move around, so that the boat didn’t tip by accident!”
Lan WangJi swam over. Seeing how calm he was even now that he had fallen into the water, Wei WuXian laughed so hard he almost choked on water, “So which of us was the first to lean over? Look at the mess!”
Lan WangJi, “I do not know. Perhaps it was me.”
Wei WuXian, “Fine, it might also have been me!”
With laughter, the two caught each other underwater, sealing the tight embrace with a kiss.
After the lips parted, Wei WuXian raised his hand, continuing what he hadn’t finished, “I’ll admit it. All that was nonsense. Back then, I really just wanted to play with you.”
Lan WangJi lifted him from behind his back, and Wei WuXian was sitting on the boat once more. He turned around to give him a hand, “And so, Lan Zhan, you’re gonna have to be honest too.”
Lan WangJi also went back on the boat. He handed him a red ribbon, “Be honest about what?”
Wei WuXian held the ribbon in between his lips, using both of his hands to retie the hair that had come loose underwater, “Be honest about whether or not you thought about me in the same way.” In a solemn tone, he spoke, “Rejecting me like that so coldly every single time—it really made me lose face, don’t you know?”
Lan WangJi, “You can try, now, to see if I would reject you over anything.”
The sentence so suddenly struck his heart. Wei WuXian choked, yet Lan WangJi was still as calm as ever, as though he didn’t at all realize what he just said. Wei WuXian put his hand to his forehead, “You… HanGuang-Jun, let’s make a deal. Please warn me before you say something so romantic, or else I won’t be able to take it.”
Lan WangJi nodded, “Okay.”
Wei WuXian, “Lan Zhan—what a person you are!”
Tens of thousands of words were left unspoken, in exchange for endless laughter and hugs.
The title of this chapter uses the Chinese characters of Yunmeng, which consists of ‘cloud’ and ‘dream’. The author explains the wordplay at the end.
“This is my original idea of the chapter ‘Yunmeng’: after WWX stirs up trouble in the Cloud Recesses and is sent back to Lotus Pier, Second Young Master Lan has a dream where he and WWX have fun in Yunmeng together, with WWX treating him to lotus seed pods and other snacks. Of course, at the time, he doesn’t actually go, but in the future he ends up going anyways.
And thus, the meaning of this title is actually, ‘a particular dream held in the Cloud Recesses becomes a dream come true’.”
When it comes to this book, I can’t even summarize all of the stories surrounding it in seven entire days. Even its publication process was filled with twists and turns, taking more than half a year to finish. Right now, the first volume is finally born, and it just so happened to coincide with its third anniversary. With this opportunity, I put pen to paper and wrote this special little note for it, for the sake of commemoration.
For an author, when you want to look back on your journey, the work itself is more meaningful than the diary. I was still studying when I planned out this novel and started writing when I graduated. Even now, I sometimes reminisce about the early days when it had just begun to serialize. I didn’t earn much, but the writing process was easy and relaxed, indeed an excellent condition for creativity.
Speaking of it, that was also the first time I consciously planned out my characters. Full of enthusiasm, I wrote over a thousand words of I-don’t-know-what for each of the two main characters, Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi, though I don’t know where they went. Now that I think about it, it was quite a pity, really.
The greater pity was the first version of its outline, almost ten thousand words. I had a habit of deleting the outline as I went, just like checking off every task from a to-do list. It gave me a refreshing sense of satisfaction, and thus I didn’t back it up.
I’ve said before that I originally wanted to write a story of cold-blooded revenge and triumphing over the scum, but for some reason, the outline became more and more miserable. I think that perhaps it was because nobody likes to be hurt, but I have a thing for people with scars.
—”Stories only scars can tell.”
Back when I was young, I especially loved those who are full of scars and stories, and I thought I could be like them—I’d keep going even as knives cut into my skin, never turning back and never looking down. And when I grew a little older, I was even more in love with them. It was because I discovered that they were even firmer and stronger than I had imagined.
I travelled by words, covered in the dust of the journey. Too many things have happened. Too many people have come and gone. No matter the misconceptions, the accusations, or even the impossibly-wounding pain, I’ve encountered them all along the way. But let me borrow a quote from Mr. Wei WuXian, “It’s only another life experience. It’d be a conversation starter when you grow older.”
Perhaps when I’m older, I’d fall in love with writing about young, carefree characters. But when the time comes, I hope that it’s not because I miss my past youth, but rather because no matter how many years have passed, no matter when, no matter where, I’ll always be young at heart!
Without a care for anything at all, I shall give the entirety of my soul to the pen and the paper.
I no longer like to tell my readers ‘I love you’. These words are too light, and yet these words are too heavy.
I hope each of you who enjoys this book
can be like Lan WangJi in virtue and Wei WuXian in character.
P.S. I received the help of many in the publication process.
Thank you Jinjiang, thank you Motie, thank you Sichuan Literature and Art Publishing House.
Thank you, my two editors, Xingzhou and Yuheng.
And thank you, my two friends, Changyang and cas.
Mo Xiang Tong Xiu
“To finish a project is like confronting a final hurdle. It doesn’t matter how you get across it—you can leap over it, you can crash through, you can crawl under it—as long as you somehow manage to reach the other side.”
The quote, paraphrased from a friend of mine, is exactly how I’ve been feeling, finishing the novel after over two years of leaping over hurdles. There’s too much to say, yet at the same time it feels like there’s nothing to say at all. All the effort, all the pain, all the sleepless plane rides, as well as all the blunders, all the crashes, and all the times I really couldn’t bring myself to care about a single word I was typing, can all be seen in the work itself. Nevertheless, I’d still like to express my gratitude towards everyone, for when I say I couldn’t have done any of this without your help, I really mean it.
First of all, thank you, Addis, for literally holding the entire thing together. I don’t know how you manage to edit so many projects all at once and at the same time keep all of the schedules organized. I’m terrible at time management. I really am. If it weren’t for you, I would’ve procrastinated the hell out of this story a long time ago. This wasn’t the first time I tried to translate something, but definitely the first time I actually stuck to a solid schedule. I know someone with better time-management skills and a less busy life probably could’ve finished the series long before I did, but for me personally, finishing the series alone would’ve already come across as a huge surprise to my past self. Thank you so much for all the help you gave me along the way. You’re amazing. Let me buy you coffee someday.
And also, thanks to every single reader of this novel. There was just so much support along the way, with encouraging words from so many of you (and in so many different languages as well). As a complete amateur, I make a lot of mistakes when it comes to translation, so major thanks to everyone who’s ever pointed out something translated wrong or just general grammar mistakes. I used to read every single comment and try to fix as many mistakes as possible, but as exam season came I really had to give up. Nevertheless, I think you guys have absolutely no idea just how much happiness all those nice comments brought into my world. I know I sound really cheesy at this point, but the experience of translating this story—and sharing that experience with readers all around the globe—is really something that changed my life (for the better, of course). I really appreciate all of you.
Finally, thanks to MXTX (who I realize will not ever read this) for writing such an amazing story. I’m a fan translator, but before that I’m a fan, a reader, and the reason I chose to translate this book was simply because I enjoyed reading it. Like any other book, it’s got its faults for sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s not one of the best danmei stories I’ve ever read. The Chinese danmei community and its fans have become increasingly questionable, if you will, which doesn’t exactly create a comfortable environment for writing stories. Still, I hope she perseveres and keeps on writing stories she herself would be proud of, regardless of outside voices.
This has been a huge chunk of text, which I suppose my readers are always used to. All in all, there are just too many things I’d like to express, for most of which I don’t have the vocabulary. Perhaps this book has simply been a fun, casual read for you. Or perhaps this book means the entire world to you, like it does to me. During the hard days, many people have tried to make me feel better by emphasizing that since I’m translating as a fan translator, I have no obligation to translate the book in the first place and thus the readers should be grateful they even get a translation. That’s bullshit. I’m the one who should be grateful that anyone is even choosing to read this. I’ve stressed countless times in the past that I think this book deserves nothing short of the best translation possible, and my work is far from reaching that standard. Period. And luckily I’ve also come to realize that nobody at all can reach that standard because I set it so impossibly high. Apologies to all of the translators I might or might not have offended. Everyone was great. I was just unrealistic. Sometime in the two-ish years I decided that it was pointless to pick on other people’s translations and improve my own instead.
So what happens next? I’ll be starting college in just a week, so I might need a while to adjust to the significantly busier schedule, especially in terms of balancing paid translation and fan translation. There are many other novels I’m interested in translating. MXTX’s fourth book will likely not be one of them, as I usually like to translate a novel after its serialization is finished, but other translators will most probably have begun to translate it in the meantime. Many of the danmei novels that have been translated so far are set in ancient/xianxia China, which is why for my next project, I’d like to introduce to the Western audience a more modern setting of China that hopefully paints a clearer picture of current Chinese youths, current Chinese citizens, as well as the issues with which they’re concerned. The phrasing sounds formidable even to me, but really I just want more people (especially given the current political climate) to understand Chinese culture. Through translating danmei. Which is completely valid.
Again, thank you everyone. Sorry about the long rant. I hope you feel that you’ve gained something from reading this beautiful story, no matter what that may be.
Projecting lots of hugs and laughter,
“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing…” -Pele
Wow. I’m kind of speechless right now. After two years, GDC is finally completely translated. This may not be the first project Exiled Rebels has completed, in fact, out of our manga and novels it’s the 100th. When I first created ExR back in March 2017, the main thing I wanted to do was bring a group to the fans that was dedicated to finishing what we started.
I’ve read thousands of books, millions of words, and the thing I always hated most over the years was a series that got me hooked then the translator dropped off the face of the earth. Our main focus when we started was Japanese BL manga, then it evolved into Chinese Danmei after some of the girls in the group got me hooked on LMW.
We started looking for more translators of Chinese danmei back in May 2017. We didn’t really have a set test or standards back then, we just wanted individuals who loved BL and wanted a wider audience to be able to read different works. We didn’t even know Novel Updates existed back then we were so new to the game.
So when K joined us, as a small, small 10th grader wanting to do something over her summer vacation, I asked her what novel she wanted to translate. She was a shy child back then, still stuck in her shell and it took her a bit to decide on GDC. It was only after we released chapter two that someone informed us that another translator, Enzo, was working on it as well, calling it the Founder of Diabolism. We’re sorry for just taking it over without knowing you were already working on it. We seriously didn’t know.
We apologize to any other translators that we irritated over these last two years. We were stuck in our own world, wanting our translation to read how we wanted. When others deemed us too slow and started using MTL or other ways to translate ahead of us, we dissed their work and them. We were used to the manga community where, once you started a project, no one else touched it unless you said you were dropping it. Going into the novel community, where translators only cared about the speed of release and where there would be two, three even five different versions of the same novel had us, tbh, quite frustrated. We saw it as them taking our project and taking our fans when they could have easily chosen new novels instead of the one we were already working on and had not dropped. So we apologize to any of you who thought we worked too slow or thought we were never going to finish.
I went through and did a word count for chapters 1 to the end and there are 476,010 words throughout all those chapters. Which roughly means, by normal American novels, this was eight total volumes over a two year span.
So huuuuuge thank you to K for making this translation even possible. It was a lot of hard work and effort, but you made it girl! You made it. All those times I texted you at 6am Saturday mornings asking how close you were to being done for Sunday release finally paid off. Sure, life got in the way several times over the years, but thank you so much for dealing with my nagging and finishing this massive novel. I’d take you up on the coffee, but I’m allergic to caffeine, so let’s do lunch or something, my treat.
THANK YOU to all of the fans, good and bad, for reading with us over the last two years. GDC was a fun ride and a lot of you loved it from day one. After the donghua came out, we saw triple the amount of readers for GDC. Then, for a good 4 months, we only had our dedicated fans until the live drama came out and we again saw triple the amount of readers. These spurts show how adaptations really boost the original author.
Thank you MXTX. This novel would never have existed without her brain. It’s too bad that we can’t support her on JJWXC due to them locking her account, claiming her novels are too violent.
We hope that everyone continues to read all of our other works in the future. You can count on us to finish whatever we start. No translation will be left behind.