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Published at 5th of April 2019 02:28:52 PM

Chapter 8

Chapter 8 – Papa’s Lies


“What’s wrong Little Sparrow?” In the courtyard, Ning Ning looked curiously at the young man before her .

The other party remained silent for a moment, before stating quietly, “I’m not Little Sparrow, my name is Little Freckle . ”

(T/N note:Sparrow is Máquè(麻雀) and Freckle is Quèbān(雀斑))

Ning Ning immediately felt awkward . Calling another party by the wrong name wasn’t intentional, but because there were truly so many people that had come over to perform, and he had come over the least…But most importantly, he didn’t have much of a presence .

Cough, “Take a seat, Little Freckle . ” Ning Ning masked her awkwardness with a cough . “Let’s take a short break and wait for my papa to come back before starting . ”

Wang ma brought pastries and tea for Ning Ning, Little Freckle, and the guard . Although the guard declined the tea, he still couldn’t control his bladder – one hour later, tremblings started emerging from his body… 

“…Go if you need to . ” Ning Ning said .

“Excuse me, I’ll make it quick . ” The guard left while trembling with his legs bent together .

After he left, Ning Ning absent-mindedly ate her pastries . If it wasn’t for that incident involving Li Xiulan, she could have nearly believed this to be a documentary about the daily life in a circus, with the synopsis probably going something like this: Boss Qu, like the magician genius Liu Qian, leads his disciples and grand disciples to carve a niche of their own . In the process of doing so, member of the circus- Chen Junyan and Li Xiulan fall in love and slowly became a couple… something doesn’t feel right!

“Hm?” Ning Ning abruptly came back to her senses and turned to gaze at the young man before her . “Little Freckle, what’s wrong?”

Little Freckle looked odd . He had his head lowered while his gaze looked Ning Ning up and down . His cheeks were red, he breathed heavily, and his hands that hung at the side of his body constantly clenched and released . Then, he took a stride and rushed up to her- lifting an arm up in an attempt to grab the mask on Ning Ning’s face .

Nobody expected this move, or to be more accurate, nobody thought he would dare to do so .

“What are you trying to do?” Wang ma broke out into cold sweat and, without thinking, threw her body forward to stop him .

However, Little Freckle was prepared for Wang ma’s pounce . The ball in his hand was in a gunny sack, and although it could be called a ball, it was actually a rock that had been sanded round with coloured paint applied to it . During his performances, he would throw six of them into the air and juggle them, but because Little Freckle’s skills weren’t too good, he would throw one up into the air and then drop one, causing the audiences to jeer at him .

But his operation this time didn’t require him to have much skill .


He ruthlessly smashed the rock within the gunny sack onto Wang ma’s face, causing her face to turn from a pale color to one dyed in red .

Taking advantage of the time given as Wang ma fell to the ground making blood-curling screeches, Little Freckle took a sharp inhale, turned around and proceeded to walk towards Ning Ning .

The second his hand grabbed onto Ning Ning’s mask, she asked him, “Do you know the consequence of doing this?”

“Only two people can see your face: one of them is Boss Qu, and the other is your husband . ” Little Freckle’s hands were trembling as well as his voice, he mumbled the information Chen Junyan leaked to him . “If I see your face, I’ll be your husband . ”

“No . ” The black-hole of a gun muzzle slowly came into view from behind him and pressed into his head . Following the sound of loading the gun, Boss Qu’s voice sounded coldly behind him, “There will be one less man in this world . ”

Little Freckle froze completely .

In the midst of his crisis, he made up his mind .

A tearing sound was heard, and he pulled the mask off Ning Ning’s face; the great amount of strength that he placed behind tearing it off caused Ning Ning to turn halfway in place . Once she had regained her balance, she touched the half of her face that stinged painfully .

“I’ve seen it! I’ve seen it! I-I’ve…” Little Freckle raised the mask high up in the air as if he was raising a champion gold medal . Halfway through his celebration, he caught a glance of Ning Ning’s real face, and his laughter immediately ceased . His eyes went wide open and he couldn’t stop the following words that escaped his lips, “…So ugly?”

Bang, as Little Freckle fell into the pool of blood, his eyes were still wide open while his lips formed the final shape of his last word ‘ugly’ .

Despite this, Boss Qu still wasn’t satisfied and continued firing a few shots at the corpse, bang, bang, bang .  The corpse on the ground started jumping about from the gunshots . Once Boss Qu fired his last shot, he kept the gun behind his waist before turning around to block Ning Ning’s view with his body and held her shoulders to comfort her . “Don’t listen to his gibberish, you aren’t ugly, not at all . You are the most beautiful girl in the world . ”

Ning Ning wore a grave expression and her shoulders were slightly shivering under his palms .

The twitching corpse on the ground, as well as the indifferent murderer standing before her, told her that this film she was in was absolutely not a documentary of circus life, nor could it purely be a romantic film– because it truly was too cruel .

“…Papa . ” Ning Ning shut her eyes tightly to keep from looking at the disturbing scene . She lightly spoke while in his arms, “Don’t lie to me anymore . ”

–––


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A few days later, inside the circus .

Chen Junyan arrived outside the door of Boss Qu’s resting room . He hesitated for a moment and was about to reach out to knock, when he heard a voice travelling out from within . “Come in . ”

“Yes . ” Chen Junyan took a sharp inhale .

The second he opened the door and entered, he couldn’t believe the scene he was witnessing .

Was that man seated in front of him really Boss Qu?

He had never seen him in such a depressed and helpless state…

Boss Qu’s current appearance was extremely terrible– his hair that was always kept swept back tidily, now lay on his head like a patch of messy grass; even his mustache, of which he was extremely proud of, had one side missing . That faint blood scar on his upper lip showed that he was too preoccupied with his thoughts while grooming, thus he brought upon a bloody disaster on his face .

He sat behind a wooden table with fingers crossed together resting before his lips . Seemingly to be deep in thought, he waited for Chen Junyan to get closer, before abruptly lifting his head up to stare directly at him . “The circus currently lacks a member, and I intend to pick you as a replacement . ”

For a quick moment, Chen Junyan began to think that he had been exposed– that Boss Qu already knew he was the one that had incited Little Freckle into action .

This feeling was especially strong when Boss Qu’s right hand reached down to pull open a drawer, from which he retrieved an item .  Bam, he threw it onto the table .

It was an old-fashioned wooden box .

Gulp, Chen Junyan swallowed his saliva .

Boss Qu closely observed every change of his expression . He lifted his hand to stroke his mustache before stating indifferently, “But, I can also give you another choice . ”

Chen Junyan moved his gaze from the box to Boss Qu’s face, speaking with a dry voice, “What choice?”

“My daughter… Ning’er . ” As he spoke her name, Boss Qu’s expression softened to the degree that Chen Junyan was almost about to mistake him as a person with blood, flesh, and feelings . “She has fallen ill . ”


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Chen Junyan listened on quietly .

“People that are ill, will look more haggard . ” Boss Qu said softly, “Hence why I never allow her to go out, nor have I placed any mirrors at home . Even the people who are allowed to personally serve her have been carefully selected . They will not tell her she had fallen ill, and will only tell her she is the most beautiful girl in the world . This is in no way a lie, for once I’ve gotten the physician to cure her, she will definitely be the most beautiful in the world . But the problem is, a mishap happened today…”

Chen Junyan asked carefully, “Did Little Freckle do something?”

Boss Qu laughed icily . “He’s now a dead freckle . To think he would dare peel off Ning’er’s mask and even call her ugly . ”

From Chen Junyan’s understanding of Little Freckle, if he said ugly, then it was very likely that she was truly ugly… Boss Qu passionately speaking of ugly as related to  illness, should also somewhat explain it?

Chen Junyan suppressed the guilt in his heart, and asked resolutely and respectfully, “Is there anything I may help you with?”

Boss Qu glanced over at him, and suddenly, he crossed his legs up onto the table and casually picked up a few wooden carvings to toy with in his palm . Only when beads of sweat on Chen Junyan’s face started trickling down, did he slowly state, “Little Freckle’s words were such a heavy blow to Ning’er, that none of my, nor the servants’ words can reach her . She insists we’re lying . ”

“You aren’t lying, the liar is Little Freckle . ” Chen Junyan said with head lowered . “Please rest assured, I’ll explain clearly to Miss . She may not be willing to listen to people around her, but perhaps she will want to listen to the words of an outsider like me . ”

Boss Qu unhurriedly nodded; he abruptly lowered his legs placed on the table, and threw the two wooden carvings he was toying with back into the wooden box . Then, he picked up the box and walked towards Chen Junyan .

“Let’s go . ” He stopped momentarily beside Chen Junyan .

Chen Junyan hastily followed after his footsteps .

It was currently morning, a time when most people would still be snuggled up in their cozy blanket in bed . However, the reserves of the circus were already up and practicing . The news of the need for a replacement for the main performer had already spread like wildfire . Nobody wanted to be the worst, for the worst would be the chosen one to ‘graduate’ and be on stage as a main performer .

Right when practice was in full swing- fire breathing, balancing a stack of bowls on one’s head- they suddenly spotted Boss Qu, or to be more accurate to say, when the wooden box in his arms was spotted, everyone’s expression immediately turned a one-eighty . The one walking on stilts stumbled with his right foot stepping on the left- crash- he fell with a large crash but didn’t dare to let out a single cry of pain . He hurriedly climbed up from the ground and got back on his stilts to continue practicing in front of Boss Qu .

Don’t choose me .

I beg you .


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I’m still useful .

Practically everyone’s body language seemed to emit this message .

“Chen Junyan . ” Boss Qu looked at each one of them as he unhurriedly raised his right hand that held that old wooden box .

“Here . ” Chen Junyan stood behind him respectfully .

“Do you want to be a member like them . ” Boss Qu slowly turned around and smiled at him . “Or do you want to be like me, to be the one that holds the box?”

In a split second, all gazes in the courtyard were concentrated on Chen Junyan .

Those gazes were one of jealousy, envy, hatred, inconceivable, why is it him… 

Even if Chen Junyan had never thought of becoming someone like Boss Qu, he couldn’t help the smugness that overcame him under those gazes . He nearly believed he wasn’t part of the pitiful creatures, and had become another type of person… The type that could easily control their life and death .

“Work hard . ” Boss Qu patted him on the back while smiling, and suddenly brought his head closer to his with his lips plastered onto his ear . Boss Qu whispered with a voice only audible to both of them, “I know you can do it well . Since you can even convince Little Freckle to die on your behalf, you can also convince Miss to believe you, right?”

In a quick second, Chen Junyan woke up from his illusion . When he turned around, Boss Qu’s smile was reflected in his eyes, yet it chilled him to the bones, awaking him once again to the truth of the matter .

His fate, had never been grasped in his own hands, and had always been in Boss Qu’s… 

…No, It was now in Miss’s hands…  

 

Translated by: Ruisi

Edited by: Ely



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