Edited by bbkgs.
Chen Chang Sheng said to pick any dish and in Tang Thirty Six’s point of view these words had two meanings. The two words “pick any” means choose any food without restraint and interact freely with me. Both meanings were about the same but slightly different. Although Tang Thirty Six felt pity for Chen Chang Sheng, he was not really concerned about the prices when picking. He grabbed the menu and casually picked several specialties of the inn. The first two dishes were flying sparrow soup and steamed double headed fish……While he was ordering, he glanced toward Chen Chang Sheng and noticed that his eyebrows were frowned. Thinking that he didn’t have enough money and with a hint of regret, he said to the waiter, “No more double headed fish, change it to bass, and also…..change the flying sparrow soup to veggie soup.”
As expected, Chen Chang Sheng’s eyebrows unfolded.
Tang Thirty Six smiled, thinking that sure enough he had observed Chen Chang Sheng in detail and understood him. “Let me get another bowl of plum blossom deer cake.”
Chen Chang Sheng frowned.
Tang Thirty Six glanced him, said, “Change it, give me a braised pork with preserved vegetable in soy sauce.”
Chen Chang Sheng still frowned.
Tang Thirty Six felt a bit unhappy, thinking that just a bowl of pork which I wouldn’t even eat at home. How are you not willing to pay this?
He spoke to the waiter “Give me a dish of steamed lotus root with a plate of barbeque pig ears!”
Chen Cang Sheng still kept the same face of disagreement.
Tang Thirty Six felt really annoyed and said “Since you are treating people for the first time, you don’t understand the way of interacting with people. I won’t say anything.”
Chen Chang Sheng felt a little surprised and asked, “What did I do wrong?”
Tang Thirty Six yelled. “Even if you don’t have enough money, you still shouldn’t reveal such an attitude in front of guests. It is really irritating! As men, heads can be severed, blood can be drained, but reputation cannot be lost! Even if you have to sell your fur coat later, why should it matter?”
Tang Thirty Six thought that this reason was very appropriate and very good for educating friends, but for Chen Chang Sheng it sounded weird.
Chen Chang Sheng asked “Isn’t it slapping one’s face until it’s swollen in an effort to look imposing?”
Tang Thirty Six felt a little annoyed and said, “What kind of saying is that?”
“It is the common saying from Xi Ning.” Chen Chang Sheng explained seriously.
Tang Thirty Six felt stunned. Thinking that this was not what he asked. He was about to get angry but then he heard Chen Chang Sheng’s next sentence.
“……Also I don’t have a fur coat.”
The room became quiet.
Tang Thirty Six forgot about getting mad. Instead, what he felt was worry and pity for this kid. He felt that Chen Chang Sheng was very pitiful.
He often saw the poor elders in his family sell fur coats or flood dragon robes in exchange for wine, but no one had told him how to treat others when they themselves are so poor that they don’t even have fur coats or flood dragon robes. How can one treat others without losing face? Because Tang Thirty Six never lacked money and had never treated others before, he didn’t know the answer.
He looked at Chen Chang Sheng and said seriously, “I will treat you this time.”
Chen Chang Sheng felt a bit surprised and asked “Why?”
Tang Thirty Six looked at him and said in a friendly tone “You don’t even have a fur coat, then you most likely don’t have any other expensive things. So I should not let you treat me.”
Chen Chang Sheng felt innocent and said “But….I have money.”
Another awkward silence.
Tang Thirty Six’s face turned gloomy and replied. “Then while I was picking before, why did you keep that face?”
Chen Chang Sheng thought about the previous scene and realized something. He felt somewhat sorry and explained, “Because…the Flying Sparrow soup you picked is known for being nourishing, but in reality it’s too hot for the body. It’s good to eat it in the fall or winter, but it’s currently spring and drinking that soup is bad for your health.”
(TL : Walking Encyclopedia?)
Tang Thirty Six had never thought that Cheng Chang Sheng was thinking about these kind of trifling matters and asked, “Are the other foods also bad? Those are the signature dishes.”
“Double headed fish are from deep ocean. It feeds on fish, shrimp, and sea snakes so it should have a lot of toxins in its body. If it’s boiled then it’s fine. If the cook skimmed its fat from the soup, it will still be edible, but the steamed ones are bad for your health. Also, there’s only two of us. Eating too much meat is also bad for your health, especially the braised pork with preserved vegetable in soy sauce. It uses streaky pork, which contains too much fat and it’s better not to eat it.”
Chen Cheng Sheng lastly added, “The pig ears in barbequed pig ears are good stuffs, but barbeque sauce is really bad. Furthermore, that plate of lotus root, if you eat too much, it will hurt your intestine and heart, which is also bad for your health.”
Tang Thirty Six couldn’t bear listening to it any longer.– Chen Chang Sheng’s words were like flies buzzing around his ears. It made him feel so uncomfortable. No matter who, listening to so many lines of “it’s bad for your health” after happily ordering food, they would feel unhappy. Of course not every food could be healthy, but who would notice these details when eating? And who would notice them in such strict way? If Chen Chang Sheng was an old man who is especially concerned about longevity, it’s fine but he was only a fourteen year old young man…..
“Why does ‘bad for health’ even matter? Surely you won’t die after eating them.”
Chen Cheng Sheng said seriously “You won’t die right away, but you will definitely die young.”
Tang Thirty Six had nothing to say. He asked curiously “Then what do you normally eat?”
Chen Chang Sheng replied: “100 grams of meat, best would be beef or goat, 1kg of veggies, best will be wild veggies, some sweet potatoes and food grains, one brook fish every two days, best if it has scales, and no soup.”
Tang Thirty Six asked, “How long have you been eating like this?”
Chen Chang Sheng replied naturally “I have been eating like this since I can remember.”
Now it was Tang Thirty Six’s turn to frown.
He felt that these foods were not tasty simply from listening to the names. If he really had to eat them for fourteen years, then how poor was his life?
He found that he felt even more pity for this kid.
While eating, both of them were very silent. Tang Thirty Six thought that the foods were too common, but Chen Chang Sheng thought that the foods were too unhealthy. After all, they both had their own dissatisfactions. Of course, this was something that couldn’t be compromised from the beginning, just like Tofu Pudding and Zongzi (sticky rice dumplings), taste and health, had always been something where humans’ point of views clashed into each other the most.
Chen Chang Sheng’s first experience in his life of treating someone ended roughly like this. Two cups of tea were put up. The two casually talked about what happened during Heavenly Academy’s entrance exam. Tang Thirty Six also asked on what Chen Chang Sheng encountered at the other two schools. He also could not understand how the Zhou military would be influenced by the Divine General’s Estate. Then, once again, there wasn’t anything left to converse about.
–New friends would usually talk about their childhood stories and experience of growing up. They found some common hobbies, but both of their childhood stories were simple and boring to a scary extent so they could not get more familiar from this part. To avoid the awkward moment of eyes staring at each other, Tang Thirty Six stood up. He walked around the room while holding a cup of tea. He walked from the hall to the balcony then came back. Thinking that this kid could rent such a big suite near the Mausoleum of Books showed that he did not lack money, so his own previous misunderstanding was truly somewhat embarrassing.
While passing by the shelf in the lobby, Tang Thirty Six’s eyes subconsciously fell on the shelf. His eyes could not leave the object on the shelf– there was a sword.
That sword was small and exquisite, seemingly not much longer than a regular dagger, and very thin. It appeared very delicate. The scabbard was a regular fur sheath and the handle was also very simple. From inside to outside it showed a sense of regularity. There was nothing noticeable, no dirt or blood, after all this sword was extremely normal, but it attracted him to go near it.
Tang Thirty Six had extended his hand to hold the hilt.
But before his hand could reach for the hilt, Chen Chang Sheng’s hand blocked his way and grabbed the hilt in his hand first.
Tang Thirty Six glanced at him.
Chen Chang Sheng looked at him and said, “This is mine.”
Tang Thirty Six was holding the cup. There was hot air coming out of the cup. In the air his handsome face appeared to be cold “So I can’t touch it?”
Chen Chang Sheng noticed his unhappiness and felt a bit worried, but he still insisted and said, “You should ask me first and if I agree, then you can take it.”
Tang Thirty Six took back his right hand and flicked his sleeve as he sat back. He put the cup back on the table in front of him.
Chen Chang Sheng felt somewhat embarrassed, thinking that he had probably done something wrong — Fine, he didn’t think he did something wrong, but this was the first friend he had so he felt worried and flustered when he saw that Tang Thirty Six was unhappy. He walked to the table, delivering the short sword up.
Tang Thirty Six looked up and glanced at him without saying a word.
Cheng Chang Sheng pushed the sword even closer.
Tang Thirty Six was unwilling to accept the sword and said, “Behaving in such a non-manly way.”
Chen Chang Sheng could not help but think ‘who was really the non-manly one? Who was the one acting like a child and getting angry right now?’ He was lost for words and did not know what to do. So he walked to the shelf and put the sword back. He turned back and asked, “Do you have anything to talk to me about?”
“In the Capital you are the only person I know. After hearing of your experience, of course I had to come and see. You are welcome, I am such a friendly and enthusiastic person.” Tang Thirty Six said indifferently: “Of course, this is established upon the basis that I admire you. You have to know, I barely admire anyone in my age. You should feel proud.”
Chen Chang Sheng was stupefied and then said “So…..thank you?”
“Just a thank you is enough?”
“Didn’t I just treat you?”
Tang Thirty Six stood up to look at him and said, “I’ve decided to accept you as my follower.”
Chen Chang Sheng asked, “What do you mean by follower?”
Tang Thirty Six explained very seriously, “It means that you can follow me from now on.”
Chen Chang Sheng explained seriously, “Sorry, I have a lot of things to do and I can’t give any of my time to you.”
Tang Thirty Six was a really arrogant youngster, but he felt sympathetic to Chen Chang Sheng’s experiences so he had come to visit. Since the opposite side didn’t say much, he obviously wouldn’t say more. But he was somewhat confused, “What thing? Continue taking the exams? Why do you have to get into the school? What’s your reason to insist on trying?”
Chen Chang Sheng asked, “How about you? What’s your goal for coming to the Capital?
“I want to participate in the Grand Examination. I want to get first place.” Tang Thirty Six said indifferently.
Suddenly, he remembered the young phoenix at the south’s Holy Maiden Peak. If she came back early…..
“I want to get second place in the Grand Examination.”
He corrected himself, but suddenly he remembered Qiu Shan Jun. If that person participated in this year’s examination….
“Ok, my goal is third place in the Grand Examination.”
Tang Thirty Six finally said, with certainty, “but after all, I want to write down my name on the tablet in front of the Mausoleum of Books…”
“Great goal, I admire you.”
Chen Chang Sheng looked at him and applauded. Suddenly he remembered something and asked, “by that time won’t you have to change your name to Tang Three?”
Tang Thirty Six didn’t know what to say. He changed the topic and asked, “And you? What’s your goal for coming to the Capital?”
Chen Chang Sheng said honestly, “I also want to participate in the Grand Examination.”
Tang Thirty Six didn’t expect that, but he was not so surprised.
Chen Chang Sheng said, “I’ve never thought of getting second or third place.”
Tang Thirty Six encouraged him “People have to know their own limits, but they can’t lose their confidence. Don’t forget, as long as you get into the top three grades in the Grand Examination, you can go to the Mausoleum of Books….”
Speaking to this point, his voice stopped because Chen Chang Sheng spoke again.
“I want to get first place.”
Chen Chang Sheng looked at him and said, “I can’t get second or third, I can only get first place.”
Tang Thirty Six suddenly had the urge to turn around and leave.
He realized that he was often forced into a situation where he was left speechless today.
Because what this kid did and said, often made others not know what to say; only wanting to vomit blood.
(TL: ahhh this is why I love our MC)