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Residence of Monsters - Volume 5 - Chapter 7

Published at 27th of May 2020 09:18:41 AM

Chapter 7

When everyone ate breakfast in the dining hall the next morning, another slamming sound rang out once again from the door on the floors above . But everyone was no longer inured to the unusual this time around .


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“When will he recover?” Morris frowned . “I’m worried I might accidentally choke him to death…”

“I don’t know . ” Dongya sighed, “Ping Lan is a victim in this, don’t be too harsh on him . ”

“He’s really different from when he was in junior high school . ” Conglong sipped his milk, stating his own opinion, “Exactly what was it that caused him to become so rebellious, and what caused him to become no longer rebellious?”

Kaido recalled the words Feng Ping Lan had once said .

I think Kaido’s doing his utmost best to go against the world, resisting the rules of this world with all his effort . You don’t care about the derision or reproach, nor do you care about being punished or getting hurt . It’s actually all so that you can gain acknowledgment and concern, in return .

He had thought Feng Ping Lan was just an outsider back then, making some cynical remarks that coincidentally hit the mark on his own thoughts .

But after seeing yesterday’s Feng Ping Lan, he realized, that wasn’t a cynical remark made by an outsider, that had been the feelings of a person who had experienced it before .

He was always smiling brilliantly with a happy-go-lucky personality, just what was the reason for his rebelliousness and resistance in the past, and who exactly did he want acknowledgment and concern from?

You’ll tire of going against the world, after a while…

So, had he tired of it, so he had given up on rebelling, given up on resisting?

How had he come to accept it? How did he change his frame of mind, to become so optimistic?

A thought flashed across Kaido’s mind .

Perhaps, the optimism and nonchalance observed in the eyes of others, was just another form of letting himself go…

Feng Ping Lan walked down with an ugly expression, dumping his bag into his seat, resentfully taking up his toast, muttering curses as he ate .  

Having learned their lesson, everyone turned a blind eye on him, keeping their silence . After Feng Ping Lan had finished eating, they half-escorted, half-deceived Feng Ping Lan into obediently going to school .

*

At noon, Feng Ping Lan and the Contracts headed to the dining hall under the dormitories for lunch as usual . Bai Li Rui, who was accompanying them, was still holding a hardcover copy of a poetry anthology, deliberately lowering his voice, making a fuss about nothing as he recited a gorgeous section .

“I must continue enduring my pain, till love turns to me, pities me, my love returns… Oh! Return! Sacred pain, nourish me, render me wholly yours…”

Morris spoke in disgust, “Don’t speak in that tone, you make me feel pain . ”

“You don’t get it, it’s only touching if I put the feelings into my lines . ” Bai Li Rui pushed his glasses up, “Didn’t you see more people turning their heads than ever on our way here?”

“Anyone would get a second glance if they saw a strange and rare animal, it’s the same reason as a video of a hippopotamus giving birth getting more clicks than a short clip of a beautiful girl . ” Conglong coldly punctured Bai Li Rui’s delusions, “Besides, the main reason why everyone’s turning their heads is because Byriel is walking behind you . ”

“Oh, perhaps . ” Bai Li Rui’s enthusiasm had been dampened, pulling the corners of his mouth a little unhappily, but it didn’t affect his mood much, and continued sharing his knowledge, “But I’ve discovered something, the number of girls interested in Gerard has reduced . ”

Bai Li Rui’s attitude was a little delighted at the other’s misfortune, and appeared to look favorably upon this matter .

The others didn’t react much . Because everyone knew that many girls in the Shadow Academy had withdrawn their favorable impressions on Gerard after he had summoned his Contract in Shadow Academy, as well as the fact that he had allied with those from the other sister schools . However, there were still a few who felt he was enigmatic, that he had a forbidden and mysterious charm to him .

”This means my Depressed Hipster Tactics have succeeded . ”

“The girls who left Gerard haven’t been attracted by you . ” Feng Ping Lan fired a direct shot at him . “You might as well fight one-on-one with him, no matter who wins or loses, you’ll be able to display your manliness and dignity . ”

“Nope, I’m bad at sports, and I’m afraid of pain . At least the distance between the two of us is drawing closer . ” Bai Li Rui looked at Feng Ping Lan, “The one I admire is you . ”

“How so?”

“You’ve changed in the past two days, you remind me of hoodlums of the 90’s Hong Kong crime films . ” Bai Li Rui pushed his glasses up, “Although creating a bad boy image, then contrasting that by displaying a tender side to your strong determined man can be used to attract girls in pursuit of something exciting, a gangster’s route isn’t very popular in high school . ”

“I’m not doing this for women—” Before Feng Ping Lan could finish, a weak bluish glow floated off his entire body .  

Bai Li Rui read as he walked, so he did not immediately notice Feng Ping Lan’s change, but his peripheral vision caught an unusual light, so he lifted his head .

Byriel, within a millisecond’s time, leaped forwards, placing himself between Bai Li Rui and Feng Ping Lan, blocking Feng Ping Lan behind him, and bent his arm backward at the same time, seizing the opportunity to throw his unused jacket over the top of Feng Ping Lan’s head .

With the descend of the jacket, the person underneath the clothes shortened simultaneously, shrinking . Dongya reached out to fish him up, carrying Feng Ping Lan along with the clothes, and turned without a word or movement, spreading a concealment spell .

Byriel moved his head toward Byriel smilingly, as if he had gained a sudden interest in the poetry anthology in his hands .

“Who wrote this poem?”

“Christina . ” Bai Li Rui lifted his head, going over him to look at Feng Ping Lan, “Wasn’t that—”

“Continue . ” Byriel cut him off in a voice full of magnetism, commanding with an alluring look in his eye, “I want to hear…”

“Uh?”

While Bai Li Rui was perplexed by this request, for some reason Byriel’s smile and attitude were incredibly appealing to him, generating a sort of bashfulness in him .

He did as he had requested, lowering his head to recite, then lifting his head, “With your aptitude, if you went down the route of a depressed hipster as well, I’d have no chances left…”

“Thanks for your praise . ” Byriel chuckled lowly, a slender finger moving towards the pages, slowly sliding across the page and coming to the hand Bai Li Rui was using to hold the book, springing up lightly to draw circles on the back of his hand, “I have no interest in those poems, but as the one reciting them, you are incredibly enchanting…”

As if jolted, Bai Li Rui’s hand shrunk back .

He gave an inwardly fearful scream .

Goodness! Before he could attract the girls, he had been extracted by a man instead! This wasn’t his goal!

Simo stealthily gave Byriel’s hem a tug from behind .

Byriel collected his charming smile, returning to his usual expression, “Did you borrow this book from the Poetry Appreciation Club too?”

“Oh, no, I borrowed this from the library . ” Bai Li Rui returned to his senses, simultaneously releasing an inward sigh of relief . “It seems the Poetry Appreciation Club’s conducting a meeting today, so I didn’t go . Besides, there’s that smell . ”

“I see . ” Byriel nodded, shooting the people at the back a look, indicating for them to retreat .

This was when Bai Li Rui realized there were two people missing from their group, “Where did Feng Ping Lan and Dongya go?”

“Feng Ping Lan had a stomach ache, so he left . ” Conglong replied, “Dongya went with him to the toilets . ”

“I see…”

“I have to go now,” Byriel spoke .

“Me too,” Conglong added .

“So as I . ” Morris continued .

Simo nodded her head as well .

“What’s going on? Why are you guys leaving all at once?”

Byriel moved his eyes around, throwing out a reasonable answer, “All of us ate Dongya’s breakfast in the morning . ”

Bai Li Rui immediately understood, no longer saying anything else, watching as these wounded warriors exited the scene .

*

Dongya brought Feng Ping Lan to the sickbay, into Quetzal’s office .

He placed Feng Ping Lan onto the bed, then took off the jacket . A boy around six, seven years old emerged under the jacket . The moment Feng Ping Lan was seated, he jumped off the bed and rushed to the washstand to throw up .

Quetzal saw Feng Ping Lan’s transformation, his expression turning several times more severe .

After vomiting for a while, Feng Ping Lan gargled his mouth, walking to the bed as if relieved from a burden . The oversized uniform spread over his young body restricted his movements somewhat .

He looked at Quetzal and Dongya, scratching his head in embarrassment, “Good afternoon, Quetzal, Dongya . ”

Dongya sensed Feng Ping Lan’s inner shift . “You’ve recovered?”

Feng Ping Lan nodded, shyly giving them an awkward radiant smile, “I’m really sorry, letting you guys see such a chuuni side of me, hahahahaha!”

“It’s fine . ” Dongya gently bent down to help Feng Ping Lan roll up his sleeves, “How do you feel right now?”

“It feels like I’ve woken from a dream . My mind’s become clear-headed, but still a little dizzy, like I ran off to sit in a teacup ride after eating, hahahaha… cough!”

Dongya patted Feng Ping Lan’s ride, supporting him to the side of the bed .

Not long after, Byriel and the others brought Yin Su Shuang and Seno over .

“Hi . It’s me!” Feng Ping Lan waved at the visitors, “Um, I’m sorry for troubling you guys yesterday!”

Conglong raised his eyebrows, “You remember?”

“That’s right . ” Feng Ping Lan covered his face with both hands, “Oh god that was super embarrassing… My black history was forcibly dug out and reenacted, it’s practically a public sentence!”

“So you were really that way in junior high school?” Morris was curious . “That’s quite a huge difference . ”

“Before my second year of junior high . ” Feng Ping Lan scratched his head, forcing a laugh, reluctant to talk about it, “Aiya, I was young and stupid, stop asking about it!” He laughed it off, but a hint of ruefulness flashed across his eyes, seemingly a little sensitive on this topic, unwilling to say any more .

Seno walked forward, placing his finger above Feng Ping Lan’s eyebrow, once again summoning the light bands to examine .

“Looks like the curse has been restored to its original state . Physical regression, his mental state unchanged . ”

“What next? How do we break the curse?”

“This curse is quite complex, I’ll have to do some research, and moreover…” Seno stared at the light bands, furrowing his brow, “Strange, the restoration response is still underway . I have no idea why, nor do I know what sort of alteration will happen next . It’d be best if you don’t move hastily before I ascertain the reason . ”

“Does that mean he has to maintain this state?”


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Seno nodded .

“How will he attend classes this way?” Morris questioned, “We could probably bluff our way through Shadow Academy, but we can’t exactly bring this kid to our day classes!”

“That’s right, everyone might think I’m your illegitimate child! Hahahaha!”

Morris glared at Feng Ping Lan, “Shut up! I’m not that smelly worm!”

“I wouldn’t make such a fundamental mistake, hehehe…”

Seno looked at Yin Su Shuang, “This isn’t a problem, in any case, your Class Advisor will help you convoy him . ”

“I’ll have you on fake medical leave for the day and Shadow Academy classes, until you recover . ” Yin Su Shuang looked at the other Contracts, “But all of you still have to attend classes, it’ll be too conspicuous if too many of you are absent . ”

“Who will take care of him, then?” Dongya spoke .

“I’ll be fine on my own!”

Dongya shook his head, “I don’t think so . ”

“Non-student staff members can do it . ” Yin Su Shuang looked at Quetzal .

Quetzal did not say anything, nor did he refuse .

After all, this result had been something he had created, he had to assume the consequences .

They asked Seno and Yin Su Shuang a few questions, then conversed with Feng Ping Lan for a while before leaving .

Feng Ping Lan and Quetzal were the only ones left in the room .

“Hehehe…” Feng Ping Lan let out a strange laugh, “It’s only us left!”

Quetzal looked at the merry Feng Ping Lan apathetically, not saying a word .

Feng Ping Lan lowered his head to look at his own feet, “My legs have become so short . My hands have become so small . ” Things had been too frenetic when he shrank the day before, and the duration had been short, he hadn’t had the time to examine his younger self properly . “Wasn’t I cute when I was younger? I was a well-known mascot in my neighborhood, you know! All those aunties said my face was really soft, there was something therapeutic about kneading it . ” He reached out to pinch his own face, “Mm, the feeling’s really not bad, hahahahaha!”

Quetzal was expressionless, looking at him indifferently .

Why was he able to keep on smiling?

Why wasn’t he accusing him… After all, everything had been caused by him .

“Does Quetzal want to touch it too?” Feng Ping Lan moved the side of his face in Quetzal’s direction, “You might— Urgh!”

Nausea raided his senses once again, and Feng Ping Lan covered his mouth, jumping off the bed, stumbling, almost falling down, then dashed quickly towards the washstand, going on tiptoe to throw up once more .

Looking at the thin and small figure, something prickled Quetzal’s heart .

After vomiting, Feng Ping Lan returned to the bed .

“I’m sorry, I made this room smell like a car Conglong sat in, hahaha!” He scratched his head, intending to climb into bed, but due to his weak body, he failed to pull himself up after hopping a few times .

Quetzal stared at the struggling body that made a futile effort, inwardly tangled and hesitant .

Feng Ping Lan tried a few times, and just when he was planning on getting a chair, he felt his body rise up .

Lowering his head, he saw the shadows on the ground bulging up, slowly raising him to the height of the sickbed .

Feng Ping Lan turned his head in pleasant surprise, “Thanks!” Then, he jumped onto the bed .

The shadow slowly retreated back to the ground .

“I’m sorry, I keep on troubling you . ” Feng Ping Lan yawned, “If only I was a little stronger . ”

Even if Feng Ping Lan became stronger, he was just merely an ordinary human . To the demons, this had no benefit .

But Quetzal did not utter such words, he just looked quietly at Feng Ping Lan .

Feng Ping Lan yawned once again, “Strange, why am I so tired…” He rubbed his eyes, slapping his cheeks, trying to keep himself awake .

“Then rest…”

“But I don’t want to sleep . There’s such a rare opportunity to be alone with Quetzal, I don’t want to waste it, hahaha…” A wave of dizziness hit him, and he slumped onto the bed . “Oh, this sucks…”

He tried to climb up, but his entire body resisted, going against his will, refusing to move as it lay on the bed .

Feng Ping Lan could only continue lying there, turning his head sideways to look at Quetzal .

“…Quetzal, will you stay here?”

Quetzal did not answer .

Feng Ping Lan yawned, his eyes dazed, “It’s fine if you have work to attend to, I’ll be fine on my own…” His willpower unable to command his sleepiness, his eyes shut gradually .

“…Do you wish for me to leave?”

Mm? Did Quetzal say something? What did he say?

Feng Ping Lan wanted to ask further, but his drooping eyelids were as heavy as lead, and he couldn’t open them no matter what .

Before his consciousness descended into dreamland, he seemed to hear a low voice coming from his surroundings .

“…I apologize…”

*

After classes, Liu Yi Chen and the others ran over to the sickbay to visit Feng Ping Lan, and seeing his appearance of a young child, everyone felt that it was inconceivable .

“You were really cute when you were little . ” Liu Yi Chen spoke smilingly, looking at those delicate cheeks, she subconsciously reached out to knead them . After pausing a little, she reached out to rub them again . As if addicted, she repeated the same movements .

“Igor was much cuter when he was little!” Ivan spoke, unwilling to submit, “Besides, Igor and I are twins, our cuteness level multiplies . ”

“You’re not even twins, you’re just a Contract . ” Conglong rebuked . “Besides, the cuteness of a child can’t alter a grown-up’s deterioration . ”

“You’re the deteriorated one!” Ivan glanced at Liu Yi Chen, “You’ve been kneading for too long . ”

Liu Yi Chen paused, withdrawing her hand, but not after a few seconds had passed, she couldn’t resist from reaching out at that tiny face again .

“This is really… irresistible . ”

“Has Class Rep fallen for me?”

“Shut up!”

These few people fought in jest for a while, said a few encouraging words to Feng Ping Lan, then left .

Right until they left the school compound, Feng Ping Lan passed between stages of wakefulness and sleep .

But much to his delight, every time he opened and closed his eyes, Quetzal would always be by his side .

When he was dismissed from afternoon classes, Dongya took advantage of the free period to bring Feng Ping Lan to the store . They bought some food and children’s clothing, then returned directly to their residence .

“Dongya, don’t you need to go back?”

“I’ve requested a leave of absence . ” Dongya smiled, “The class advisor says it’s fine as long as it’s just me . ”

In the column on the leave application was written: Parental leave .

Yin Su Shuang stared blankly when he saw Dongya’s leave application, but he did not correct it, simply letting it pass .

Perhaps because he had turned into a child, Feng Ping Lan became tired very early on, and went to sleep at nine o’clock .

*

The next morning, six o’clock . Deafening music echoed through the entire house .

It was the music combined by several musical instruments, accompanying a cheery and joyous singing voice, jolting everyone in this building awake at dawn .

“What the hell!”

“What’s that sound!”

The Contracts stepped out of their rooms in succession, heading towards the source of the music .

“Did he return to how he was the day before?”

“I don’t care if that guy’s in his rebellious stage, I’ll beat him up!” Morris bellowed .

Everyone arrived at the drawing room to suddenly discover Feng Ping Lan had returned to his teenage self, standing before the fifty-inch liquid crystal display .

On the screen was a vivid background with cartoon characters drawn on it, a group of animals in clothes smiling radiantly with merriment under the blue cloudy skies . In front of the background, a model ragdoll led a group of little kids ages six to seven as they enthusiastically did gymnastics along to the music, full of joy and harmony .

“Alright kids! Let’s move along with Honeydew-gege and BoBo Bear! We’ll become good and healthy children, okay?” A man in a bright green tracksuit and a green headband was shown on the screen, calling out to the kids with an exaggerated expression and body movements .

“Okay!” The children cheered happily, raising their arms and jumping .

“Okay!” Feng Ping Lan raised his hands and jumped before the screen, like the children in the picture did .

Then, the intensely pulsating music continued to play, and the man and assistant in a tutu on the screen started a zealous and rhythmic dance, the children happily following along to their movements . Feng Ping Lan also waved his hands and legs with a joyous expression .


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“Do students in the rebellious stage have morning gymnastic routines?” Conglong was puzzled .

“If his goal was to infuriate his parents, it’s quite a successful move . ” Morris furrowed his brows, angrily walking forwards and picking up the remote to turn off the TV .

“Ah!” Feng Ping Lan let out a disappointed sigh before the television, then turned his head, and smilingly spoke with an overly vigorous tone, “Good morning! Everyone is late! Don’t dawdle in bed, or Grandpa Sun will be very sad if he can’t see your face!”

What sort of maneuver was this…

“Are you… alright?” Dongya asked .

“Mm!” Feng Ping Lan nodded his head with all his might, then placed both hands on his waist, rocking it left and right, “Ping Lan sleeps early, and rises early! A healthy body, full of energy!” He then squatted, then rose, both hands giving them a thumbs up .

“Didn’t you say you wake up in a bad mood?” Conglong asked .

“Mm? Why should I get angry?” Feng Ping Lan was puzzled, “I love mornings the most! Rising early means getting my breakfast early! I can play with my toys earlier too!” He picked up the cup placed by the side, taking a sip .

Conglong’s sharp eyes spotted the fresh milk within the cup .

“Ah! That’s my milk!”

“I was hungry, there’s nothing in the fridge . ” Feng Ping Lan said pitifully, “Can I exchange them for fish biscuits?”

“I don’t want them! Why didn’t you eat those fish biscuits yourself!”

“That’s not a proper meal, that’s junk food . ” Feng Ping Lan said reasonably, “Bread-jiejie says we can’t eat junk food as a proper meal, this way we won’t grow tall, and our stomachs will hurt hurt! Ladybug-gege also said you’ll grow tall tall by drinking milk, and have a stronger, stronger head!”

A burst of fury ran through Conglong, “Speak normally! Stop duplicating your words1!” 

“Are kids in the rebellious stage supposed to be this evasive?”

“That’s not the rebellious stage…” Kaido looked at Feng Ping Lan, stating what he had deduced, “He’s regressed again . His current mental age must be in the first year of elementary school or kindergarten . ”

Byriel smiled as he looked at Feng Ping Lan, Feng Ping Lan also returning him a smile .

“Byriel, good morning!”

“This one seems to be a little more manageable than the one the day before…”

“Byriel’s hair is yellow, like a banana . ” Feng Ping Lan smiled innocently, “Can I call you Banana-gege?”

Byriel raised his eyebrows, smiling, “No . ”

“Then can I call you Sunflower-gege?”

“Again, that’s a no . ”

After getting a rough understanding of the situation, everyone heaved a sigh of relief . Although Feng Ping Lan had yet to recover, a young child was much easier to get along with than a middle-schooler in his rebellious stage .

Besides, it seemed like this was the closest version they could get of the original Feng Ping Lan…

Awoken from their sleep at such early hours, everyone returned to their respective rooms . Quetzal was about to turn to leave, when something grabbed onto his hand .

He turned his head to see Feng Ping Lan holding his hand with a brilliant smile .

“Quetzal~”

Quetzal did not reply, but he did not withdraw his hand either .

“I woke up early this morning, all by myself, much earlier than the alarm clock!” Feng Ping Lan said, pleased with himself .

Quetzal still did not react, he didn’t understand why Feng Ping Lan was saying this to him .

“Aren’t I amazing?”

Quetzal saw the anticipation brilliantly shining in those eyes, and after a long hesitant moment, rigidly and reluctantly, nodded his head slightly .

Feng Ping Lan cheered, “Then, you have to give me a reward!”

Quetzal did not respond, he didn’t understand what Feng Ping Lan meant by a reward .

In the next moment, Feng Ping Lan raised his palms, placing them on his head, then gripped his wrist, moving it left and right .

Quetzal let Feng Ping Lan lead his hand towards his fluffy hair .

“Like this . ” Feng Ping Lan stopped, taking Quetzal’s hand down from his head, then instructed earnestly, “Don’t forget!”

Still, Quetzal did not respond .

“I’ll go change my clothes!” Feng Ping Lan turned, running up the steps with a few thuds .

Quetzal looked at Feng Ping Lan’s back in deep thought .

He thought, the Feng Ping Lan before him was similar to the Feng Ping Lan he knew, yet different…

Not his intellect or his speech, but a kind of indescribable feeling .

The current Feng Ping Lan’s hastiness and naivete was much more natural and truthful than before .

The usual Feng Ping Lan was also natural and true, but when the two were placed side by side as a comparison, he sensed a slight discrepancy he couldn’t exactly describe between them .

Quetzal tossed that notion aside . He regarded himself, who bothered and focused on this small matter, with disapproval .

*

Feng Ping Lan had changed into his school uniform very early on, sitting at the dining hall as he waited excitedly .

Dongya placed a plate of toast before Feng Ping Lan, then a glass of milk by the side .

“That’s my milk!” Conglong protested .

“He likes milk, there’s nothing wrong with sharing a glass with him . ”

“Oh, I don’t like milk . ” Feng Ping Lan admitted honestly, “But Bread-jiejie and Ladybug-gege says all children have to drink milk . I’m very obedient, so I drink all of it!”

“That whatever Breadbug-jiejie is just spreading wild rumors!” Conglong became agitated, feeling displeased that not only had his milk been drunk, but it was also being criticized .

“It’s Bread-jiejie!” Feng Ping Lan corrected, then lowered his head to look at that cold piece of toast, pouting in distress . “Is it just this?”

“What do you want to eat?” Dongya asked gently .

“Can I have an extra sunny-side up egg?” Feng Ping Lan requested in a whisper, “I want a smiley face on it, like Grandpa Sun . ”

“Of course you can . ” Dongya smiled, rising up, “I recall there are still eggs in the house . Just a sunny-side up egg should be fine…”

“Yay! That’s great! Thanks, Dongya!”

The faces of Conglong, Morris, Simo and Byriel changed simultaneously .

Before Dongya could walk into the kitchen, Kaido seized the chance to raise his hands, blocking his path .

“I’ll do it . ”

“But…” Dongya looked at Kaido, unsure .

“Please be assured, leave things to Young Master Kaido . ” Tan Hua spoke out behind Kaido’s back, “Home Economics is the only subject with a passable grade of high marks whose exam he has no need to resit . ”

“Tan Hua, shut up!” Kaido reprimanded lowly, walking into the kitchen .

Before Dongya could return to his seat, Morris lowered his voice to warn, “…Didn’t your Breadbug-jiejie ever teach little kids like you not to commit suicide?”

“It’s Bread-jiejie!” Feng Ping Lan corrected exasperatedly .

In less than five minutes, Kaido came out carrying a circular plate, a sunny-side up egg whose shape and color were both impeccably perfect lying on it, and placed it before Feng Ping Lan .

Everyone looked at the sunny-side up egg, then looked at Kaido, clicking their tongues in wonder .

“Thanks, Kaido!” Feng Ping Lan looked at the sunny-side up egg happily, then glanced up at Kaido, speaking expectantly, “When will you draw the smiley face?”

“We don’t have ketchup at home . ”

“Oh . ” Feng Ping Lan sighed with great pity, “But I want a smiley face, only eating a sunny-side up egg with a smiley face drawn on it will let you receive Grandpa Sun’s vitality, this way you’ll have energy!”

Conglong furrowed his brows, “What’s he rambling about this time?”

“The contents of a nursery channel . ” Kaido explained .

“You humans use lies to educate the children?” Morris shook his head .

Kaido let out a cold laugh, “Being surrounded by imaginary lies is much a happier option than having to face the cruel reality . ” He then turned, walking back to his room, then, moments later, returned with a bottle of something .

“What’s that?”

“I only have barbecue sauce . ” Kaido twisted the bottle cap, picking up the sauce brush, then brushing a few strokes on the egg yolk .

The strokes were dry and interrupted, and the brush was too coarse, so the human face on the egg yolk had a pair of empty and twisted dark eyes, as well as a slanting mouth that seemed to be giving a miserable shriek .

Conglong glanced at that sunny-side up egg, “I seem to recall seeing something similar to this in our art class . ”

“It’s… Munch’s Scream…” Simo spoke in a whisper .

Kaido glared at these demons .


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Compared to the demons’ reactions, Feng Ping Lan appeared to be pretty delighted .

“Yay yay! A smiley face!” Feng Ping Lan clapped happily, “Wahaha! Like Grandpa Sun!” He raised the plate, moving the egg onto his toast, then lifted it up, humming the gymnastics song he had heard this morning as he finished off his breakfast, bite by bite .

Seeing this Feng Ping Lan, anxiety rose in the hearts of everyone once again .

This Feng Ping Lan was easy to grasp as well as easy to get along with, but he was much more guileless than the original Feng Ping Lan, he was less guarded and had no self-preservation skills .

With the Trials looming over the horizon, would he recover in time?

*

As they had been forced to wake early, all of them headed to school ahead of schedule . Dongya, Conglong and Simo accompanied Feng Ping Lan to the bus station .

The morning bus was much emptier, and not long after Feng Ping Lan had sat down, the compartment started to move . He started by pressing the bus bell a couple of times, tried to take down the safety hammer so that he could play with it, then grabbed onto the horizontal bars .

“Look! Pull-ups!” Feng Ping Lan grasped the bars with both hands, both legs raised, bending his body into a right angle .

The passengers within the bus gave them repeated sideways glances .  

Dongya hurriedly stopped him, pulling him down, but not long after they had sat down, Feng Ping Lan started to become restless once more, lifting the seats of the bus .

“Hey! Put it back down!” Conglong rebuked .

“Ah . ” Feng Ping Lan looked at the compartment underneath the cushions with pleasant surprise, “Dongya, look! There are so many things!”

“Don’t—” When Dongya saw the trash and dirt shoved under the cushions, his gentle face instantaneously turned rigid, an intense killing intent bursting out .

Conglong and Simo were intimidated, subconsciously backing away .

Only Feng Ping Lan was out of the loop, staring at the pile of trash inside and saying, delightedly surprised, “Cockroach Baba and Cockroach Mama are bringing their little babies out to play! I wonder where they’re heading to!”

“They’ll be sweeping the tombs2…” Dongya’s voice was low, a breeze subtly rising around him . “Sweeping the tombs of their own graves . ”

An incisive wind swept under the seats, striking one of the cockroaches . The remaining living cockroaches sensed danger, and used their hidden skill for escape, starting to flap their wings, flying and scuttling around all four corners of the compartment .

An uproar was created as the passengers within the bus started to scream .

Dongya’s expression had become a few levels fiercer, like an Asura .

Simo quickly pressed the bus bell, but they had yet to reach the station, so the driver did not stop . She sang softly, the soundwaves transferring into the driver’s ear, making him subconsciously do as she instructed, immediately putting the public bus to a stop by the road, opening the doors .

Conglong pulled onto Feng Ping Lan and Dongya, running out of the bus . Leaving the disorder back in the bus, they hurriedly fled the scene .

“We haven’t arrived at school yet . ” Feng Ping Lan looked at the surroundings .

“We still have a little way left to go, let’s just walk . ” Conglong said powerlessly .

“Okay! I love walking the most!”

Feng Ping Lan happily held onto Dongya with his left hand, his right hand holding onto Simo, heading onwards as he sang and jumped .

Dongya, Simo and Conglong secretly released a sigh of relief .

The day had just started, but why was there a sense of weariness among them…

*

When they arrived at school, Dongya and the others brought Feng Ping Lan directly to Yin Su Shuang’s office .

“He regressed again . ” Dongya explained, “His mental age is currently around seven years old . ”

Yin Su Shuang sighed, “I’ll call Seno…” He placed a call to Seno’s office, and there was a long moment before it connected .

While Yin Su Shuang was making the call, Feng Ping Lan circled around the room restlessly, looking at the various bottles on the cabinet, a novel glimmer shining in his eyes, as if he was currently in a massive toy box .

He looked at the glass bottles on the cabinet, reaching out to take one, but was blocked by Conglong . He then spotted a bamboo urn with a seal tacked onto it, attempting to touch it, but was pushed away by Simo . He tried to climb onto the back of the meeting sofa, but was pulled down by Dongya . The same thing happened for about eight times within a short three minutes .

Yin Su Shuang hung up his phone, “Seno will arrive in about ten minutes . ” He looked at the Contracts, noticing the weary looks on their faces .

“I’m so bored . ” Feng Ping Lan sat in his seat, his legs swaying back and forth .

Yin Su Shuang glanced at Feng Ping Lan, “What do you want to do?”

“I want to play a game!”

“How about a game of treasure hunt?”

“Okay!”

Yin Su Shuang drew a piece of paper from his drawer, then picked up a pen, handing them over to Feng Ping Lan .

Feng Ping Lan looked at the blank piece of paper, “What’s this? I don’t want to draw right now . ”

“This is a treasure map . ” Yin Su Shuang pointed at the pen, “This is a magic pen, only through it will the hidden treasure map emerge . ”

“I see!” Feng Ping Lan picked up the pen, drawing on the paper, but the paper was still blank after drawing for quite some time . “Why isn’t anything coming out?”

“Because that’s a magic pen, of course it won’t be so easily deciphered . ” Yin Su Shuang said matter-of-factly, “You must find the right method to draw on that piece of paper, placing the paper in a correct angle and position, only then will the treasure map appear . ”

“Oh! Okay!” Feng Ping Lan stared seriously at the map, trying out various angles to place the paper at, then putting a few strokes in various locations on the paper, then trying various ways of gripping the pen .

They saw Feng Ping Lan quietly sitting in the corner, focusing all his attention on doodling on that white piece of blank paper, no longer making a noise .

Conglong, Simo and Dongya widened their eyes .

“How did you manage that?” Dongya was astonished to no end .

Yin Su Shuang gave a cold laugh, “Do not forget, I am a qualified teacher with a teaching certificate . ” Fooling little children was a fundamental skill for a teacher .

Not long after, Seno appeared . He was wearing a cotton tracksuit, his hair completely mussed up, looking like he had just gotten up from sleep . Seno lived in the school’s staff dormitories, and his office was just beside his room, but there wasn’t much of a difference between the two . He would sometimes go straight to sleep in his office, right till it was time to clock in which he got up specifically to do, then lay down to continue sleeping .

“You just got up?”

“Don’t worry, I brushed my teeth…” Seno yawned, looking at Feng Ping Lan, “What’s he doing with a dried-out pen?”

Yin Su Shuang glared at Seno .

“It’s a magic pen!” Feng Ping Lan lifted his head to explain . “It can summon a hidden treasure map!”

“Oh?” Seno nodded, glancing at Yin Su Shuang, “When did you obtain such a mystical thing?”

“Are you serious?” Yin Su Shuang humphed exasperatedly, “His mental age has regressed again . He’s currently about seven years old . ”

“Didn’t I forecast that yesterday…” Seno scratched his stubbled chin, “However, the speed of the regression was much quicker than I predicted . ”

“So, have you found anything to solve this yet?” Conglong was a little annoyed .

Seno shook his head, “The original spell was troublesome enough, now that it’s been disrupted, it won’t be as easy fixing it . ”

“Can you predict the next time he regresses?” Dongya asked, “He was almost seen by someone when he suddenly transformed into a child yesterday . ”

“I can’t do that . ” Seno picked his nose, “But I can try reducing the speed of his transformations, delaying it to preserve his time in his teenage body . ”

He reached out to press Feng Ping Lan’s forehead, and Feng Ping Lan cried out .

“What’s wrong?” Dongya was concerned, “Do you feel unwell? Where does it hurt?”

Feng Ping Lan scrunched up his face, “He’s touching my face after picking his booger, there’ll be germs…”

Everyone stared blankly, looking at Seno a little awkwardly .

“Don’t worry, my nose was just itchy, I didn’t mine any ores…” Seno uttered an incantation, pulling out the light bands, then reached out a hand to lightly touch a few of those bands .

The speed of the light bands’ movements gradually slowed, revolving with a much slower pace .

“It’s done . ”

Conglong looked at Feng Ping Lan, “Isn’t the School Festival starting soon? Will he be able to attend in this state?”

“He’ll have to bite the bullet and attend . ” Seno looked at Feng Ping Lan as he ran off to draw his treasure map, and after a moment’s silence, a much graver expression emerged on his face, “I advise you guys to find the spell’s caster . We’ll have to proceed with both sides, to avoid the worse-case scenario from happening . ”

“Is there anything much worse than this! It’s hard enough dealing with him!” Conglong grumbled .

“If he regresses into a baby, you’ll have to help him use the potty . ” Yin Su Shuang reminded coldly .

“That isn’t the worst situation . ” Seno stared at Feng Ping Lan, “The curse has been restored to its initial effect, but the restoration process hasn’t been stopped . His physical and mental states are regressing at different speeds, both of them overtaking each other . If the curse cannot be broken by an outsider, if we follow the trend, his mind might regress to before he is even born, to a state where his soul and awareness do not exist . ”

“What happens then?”

“There are two types of outcomes, one of them being the curse failing on its own after he turns zero, and he returns to normal . Another outcome would be after the curse’s failure, its influence on its host does not vanish, and his mind will stop at a state of nothingness . ” Seno muttered to himself irresolutely for a moment, “That would be just like a vegetative state, never to wake again . ”

The faces of Dongya and the others turned serious, silently hoping such a situation would never happen .

“If there’s nothing else, I’ll be leaving…” Seno reached into his pocket to grab his cigarette, and when he couldn’t find his lighter, turned his head and said to Feng Ping Lan, “Do you have a lighter?”

“Nope! Pineapple-gege says little kids cannot touch lighters, it’s very dangerous . ”

“I see . ” Seno nodded his head .

After exchanging a few words with Yin Su Shuang, Seno left the office .

“You guys can return to class . ” Yin Su Shuang said to Dongya and the others, “Try making it through today, tomorrow’s the base-setting ceremony, and the day school will be let off tomorrow, the Shadow Academy classes suspended as well, the students are allowed to choose whether to attend the rituals . The day school will be entering their consecutive holidays starting next Monday, and the Shadow Academy will begin its four-day Trials . That will be the true ordeal . ”

“Can he participate? He’s much weaker than usual, regardless in his child or adult form . ” They had originally needed to consolidate step by step, as someone who had mixed into the world of Summoners and demons with an ordinary human’s disposition . Now that he had to participate in the Trials in a child-like state, battling against the Summoners and demons, it was like throwing a young rabbit into a pack of wolves…

“Your duties are to protect him . ” Yin Su Shuang reminded them, “The Director has already interfered to escort you into this school festival, if he meddled even more, suspicions would arise among those in the Association . ”

“I understand . ” Dongya sighed, glancing at Feng Ping Lan . “Let’s go, time for class . ”

“Oh, okay . ” Feng Ping Lan stood up, staring at the still-blank piece of paper, then looked at the pen in his hands, raising his doubts to Yin Su Shuang, “Is this… Really a magic pen?”

Yin Su Shuang did not answer, his finger giving a light flick .

The tip of the pen in Feng Ping Lan’s hand exploded into tiny little dazzling sparklers .

“Woah! Amazing!” Feng Ping Lan sighed in amazement .

Conglong and Simo also widened their eyes in surprise, looking at the pen in Feng Pin Lan’s hand like it was a rare sight .

Feng Ping Lan carefully clasped the pen, “May I have this?”

“You may . ”

“Yay!” Feng Ping Lan raised up the pen like it was a treasure, then walked over to Yin Su Shuang, hugged him, then planted a kiss on his cheek, “Thank you! I love Class Advisor the most . ”

Yin Su Shuang froze, then responded a little awkwardly, waving his hand to indicate for Dongya to bring Feng Ping Lan away .

Dongya and Simo led Feng Ping Lan out of the office, but Conglong just stood there .

“Is there anything else you need?” Yin Su Shuang raised his eyebrows .

“I want a magic pen too . ” Conglong spoke .

“Ah?” Yin Su Shuang was slightly stunned, then let out a laugh, “That’s just an ordinary dried-out ballpoint pen . ”

“Why did sparklers come out of it, then?”

Yin Su Shuang shook his head exasperatedly, “Just a common light spell, extremely convenient for fooling children . ” He glanced at Conglong with an ironic smile, “I never thought it would fool even a demon . ”

“So it was fake…” Conglong was clearly a little disappointed .

“Didn’t you know? All Summoners work part-time jobs as nannies and teachers whenever they are out of work . ” Yin Su Shuang smiled lightly .

Those little spells and tricks were incredibly useful in hoodwinking the kids and their parents .

“What would you do if he realized it was fake?” Conglong begged to differ .

Yin Su Shuang took a sip of tea, “He will then begin to mature . ”

*

When Dongya and the others returned to the classroom, informing the others of Feng Ping Lan’s circumstances, everyone entered a state of bitter thoughts .

“It’s that severe?!” Liu Yi Chen was extremely shocked .

“It may not necessarily be that bad of a situation . ” Dongya spoke, “Seno will provide assistance, he just needs some time . ”

Liu Yi Chen turned her head to gaze at Feng Ping Lan .

Feng Ping Lan was currently circling around Zong Yu, climbing onto that roundish figure, hugging and rubbing against him . Zong Yu pushed him away irritably, but Feng Ping Lan kept sticking back onto him immediately .

“Zong Yu is a Panda Hero!” Feng Ping Lan spoke gleefully, “Teach me kung fu! Teach me kung fu! Hahahaha!”

Liu Yi Chen turned her head back, “What about the Trials, then? And the Festival?”

“In any case, Zephaniah has a nursery division . ” Byriel remarked cynically with a smile .

“That isn’t funny . ” Liu Yi Chen pondered for a moment, “If we could find the Gentleman Thief, we might have a quicker chance of solving the problem . ”

“How do we find him? We’ve already let him get away once . ”

“We’ll start from the last place of investigation Feng Ping Lan went to . ”

“The Poetry Appreciation Club?” Morris raised his eyebrows, “We slipped into their clubroom on the night of the incident, we couldn’t find any clues . ”

“Perhaps you didn’t look into it carefully enough . Who knows, we might get something out of asking their club members . ”

“Will they cooperate?” Conglong humphed crossly, “There’re just a bunch of eccentric guys . ”

“They’ll need to cooperate . ” Liu Yi Chen gave a confident smile, “Don’t forget which club we’re in . ”

The Society Research Club was generally acknowledged as the Student Council’s minions, after all .

*

In the afternoon, Liu Yi Chen’s group came to the Poetry Appreciation Club’s clubroom at the Block A club complex .

The narrow classroom seemed particularly crowded, being visited for the first time by so many people . Adding on the fact that there was a strong-smelling aromatic smell within the room for some reason, causing the room to be poorly ventilated, it felt heavy and stifling inside .

“I don’t understand why there is a need to investigate us . ” The Poetry Appreciation Club’s president frowned, light flashing across his heavy glasses, making it hard to see his line of vision, but from his tone, he seemed puzzled and displeased with the arrival of Liu Yi Chen’s group, “We’re just a small club…”

“We’re not doing this out of boredom, either, you guys are just a small fellowship club, not the focus of the Student Council’s supervision . ” Liu Yi Chen shrugged, “But someone has reported you, so there’s nothing we can do . ”

“Who was it?” The president asked .

“I’m not at liberty to discuss that . ” 

“It must be the Bracken Appreciation Club next door, isn’t that right!” The president inquired devoutly . “They’ve always attempted to have our club abolished, trying to occupy our clubroom!”

“I’m not at liberty to discuss that . ” Liu Yi Chen said, straight-faced, looking like she was here for business .

“I want to file a complaint,” The president spoke indignantly, “We discovered a putrid smell coming from the classroom the other day! I spent a huge effort getting rid of that smell! It must be them and their little tricks! Those guys use their self-made organic fertilizer to irrigate their brackens!”

“How can there be such a thing? That’s just too vile of them, I must report this . ” Liu Yi Chen pretended to write it into her notebook, placating his feelings, instantaneously upgrading his impression of her . “Can we go outside so you can answer a few of my questions?”

“Why?”

“Oh,” Liu Yi Chen’s eyes roved about, “About the matter you reported earlier, we need evidence, see if we can find any traces of malicious sabotage . ”

“Oh! Alright!” The president was considerably cooperative, leading two of his club members out into the hallway .

The moment the people from the Poetry Appreciation Club left, Zong Yu immediately drew out the apparatus to start taking readings, but the needle remained still even after circling around the classroom once, giving absolutely no reaction .

In the hallway, Morris took out the poetry anthology Feng Ping Lan had been carrying, questioning the president and the two other club members, “Does this belong to your club?”

The club president took the anthology, flipping to the last page, and saw the club stamp, “That’s right . Why is our club property in your hands?”

“Silence! I’m the one asking the questions here!” Morris was stern-faced, his tone ferocious, silencing the gentle and frail-looking club members of the Poetry Appreciation Club . “Who does this anthology belong to?”

“That’s a club resource, it was already there when I joined the club . It could have been donated by one of our seniors, or bought from a second-hand bookstore by our previous president . ”

“Could the club counselors know where this book came from?”

“Fellowship clubs don’t need club advisors or consultants . And club members who actually participate in our usual activities, so we’ve always been handling our club by ourselves . ”

Morris spared the three members of the Poetry Appreciation Club a glance, twisting his lips impatiently, then retreated to one side .

Liu Yi Chen walked out of the clubroom, asking the three of them a few questions, then picked up the club’s activity log and a few related documents before they left .

The group of people headed to Quetzal’s office in the sick bay to study the files .

The Poetry Appreciation Club did not have many records, and in addition, they only differed on small points, its activities unchanged in the four years since its founding, and its members never surpassing ten people .

“Here’s the club register, to gather enough members, they’ll register even the people who’ve only been there once . ” Liu Yi Chen drew out a thin book, unfolding it, the names of all its members written on it .

While it was called a register, there were only five names on it, and as a ghost member who had only participated once, Bai Li Rui was among them . Looking at the daily meeting attendance sheet, the ones actually conducting the activities were just four of them .

“Here are the records of their club resources . Most of the books in the club are contributions by the members, a majority of them bought from old book stalls . But their registration isn’t very reliable . ” Liu Yi Chen had flipped through the documents all at once, concluding from the facts, “Only four years have passed since their establishment, and in the past, only three of the club members were Shadow Academy students, all of them foreign students . Looks like none of them are our suspects . ”

“Then what’s going on with that book?”

“Perhaps they just happened to buy a second-hand book that the Gentleman Thief owned…” After all, that Gentleman Thief was a guy who loved romantic sentimental nonsense .

“Would it really be that much of a coincidence?” Ivan called into question .

“I don’t know . ” Liu Yi Chen sighed .

Everyone’s gazes moved towards Feng Ping Lan, who sat in the corner playing cat’s cradle with Su Li Wan, pondering silently at the same time .

If this was the usual Feng Ping Lan, perhaps he would quickly find a clue, work out an idea…

Even if he gave the feeling of being foolish, unreliable and someone who made a hash of things, now that they thought of it, they had depended on Feng Ping Lan a couple of times to make it through a crisis, turning danger into safety .

They came to a sudden realization, that Feng Ping Lan was much more important than they had initially thought . Without him, it was as if this group had lost their core, no longer having the ability to operate .

TL Notes

Duplicated words: When Feng Ping Lan says ‘肚子痛痛’, ‘长高高’ ‘头好壮壮’, they should be translated into ‘stomach hurts’, ‘grow taller’, and ‘a strong head’ . While slightly childish, they’re used correctly in a Chinese sentence, and characters are usually duplicated to add emphasis . I’ve translated Feng Ping Lan’s speech a little… incorrectly, I guess, to show this duplication .   ‘Sweeping the tombs’: Sweeping Tomb Day is a day where families travel to their ancestors’ graveyards to pay their respects, better known as Qingming Festival .


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