Chapter 2. The Way Muwui Lives (1)
My name is Muwui. Zhang Muwui.
It means to put one’s strength into martial arts.
Actually, this was a name I made for myself.
My original name was something that had a meaning that ran along the lines of… say, dogshit. But when an official asked for my name as I was being enlisted, I ended up having to come up with Muwui on the spot.
Eh, no real reason.
It just sounded pretty cool at the time, you know? I ended up slapping on an actual meaning behind that name after I learned to read.
After the Tang fell, just about everyone was calling themselves a king. Unfortunately, this was around the time of my birth.
I didn’t even know who my parents were.
It wasn’t like I was particularly unlucky or anything. There were plenty of kids living on the street without any parents back in those days.
During those days I used to beg for food or did some petty work on the streets. Eventually, some random family decided to take me in and feed me. Well, in the end, I found out that there was no such thing as a free lunch in this world.
For a single year’s worth of happiness, I was enlisted into the army in the stead of the family’s son.
The son was actually a bit older than me. But I was the one with the sturdier frame.
I learned this later, but most people in the day did the same thing once they realized the war wasn’t going to end any time soon. They’d pick kids like me up off the streets and send us off to war in place of others.
No wonder they fed me so well…
Well, it wasn’t like I had any regrets or anything.
I’d have been dragged into war even if I was a beggar.
After all, even beggars couldn’t escape the reaches of conscription.
Objectively speaking, beggars were the ones to benefit the most from conscription. They had nothing to lose, and they’d have food to eat for the rest of their days.
That’s what I thought at least.
Just fight a bit, and whenever you feel like your side is going to lose, just inch back slowly before making a run for it.
That’s how I survived. For twenty years.
But in the last battle, we had suffered a defeat bad enough to split up our entire platoon.
It wasn’t like it didn’t happen before, so I wasn’t too worried, but this time a random pack of wolves decided to make a cameo in our war.
Well, I understood them.
Why would the wolves care about what my life was like?
It didn’t matter to them as long as I was made of plenty of flesh and blood, right?
I really don’t have any grudges against them, not really.
Because I lived.
I’ve been living too rough a life to hold grudges against petty things like this.
Besides, these wolves ended up being the ones to lead me to precious treasures, weren’t they?
The martial arts techniques aside, the light pearls themselves should fetch a pretty hefty price in the outside world.
That’s what I was thinking, at least.
At least, before I woke up…
God damn it…
* * *
The first thing Muwui did after waking up was to drink and eat some more moss. As he was eating the moss, the pills and books from before invaded his thoughts.
“Hohoho, finally I get to experience the spring of my life!”
Muwui never saw a proper martial artist before. The best he’d seen so far was only a “second rate” as referred to by the world.
The man had only visited a battlefield because he was a random wanderer.
However, it was thanks to this that has allowed Muwui to realize that the stories of the “Jianghu” he had heard as a child was no myth.
The wanderer might have been a mere second rate martial artist, but he was able to outrun a horse. He was able to face tens of soldiers without suffering the slightest injury. This broadened Muwui’s perspective on the world.
Having “worked” in the battlefield for years at this point, Muwui had taken the opportunity to buy some alcohol for the wanderer in order to try and learn a thing or two about combat.
Luck was an important factor in the battlefield, but one’s skills with the blade mattered too.
And the stories the wanderer spoke of as he drank were from a world called the “Jianghu”.
A world where experts could fly and shoot blasts of wind from the palm of their hand.
A world where experts like these would live for justice. The Jianghu. The one story that never failed to show up here were the ones speaking of “mysterious encounters”.
Muwui couldn’t believe them, but he could still understand them.
Why couldn’t he believe the existence of such mysterious encounters?
What kind of a madman would hide his treasures in a random cave just to start a treasure hunt?
It’d be far wiser to sell it off or hand it down to their descendents.
That’s why Muwui couldn’t help but snort at the claims of such encounters existing out there, but at the same time he could understand why stories of them existed to begin with.
To wanderers, dreams like these were the only things they had. Just like how soldiers wished for the war to end, these wanderers would wish for a mysterious encounter.
And yet, that dreamlike scenario had actually come to a reality for Muwui.
After grinning to himself, Muwui looked around for a bit.
“Hm? Where’d the entrance go?”
He wiped off the water from his mouth before looking around again.
His face stiffened after taking a second glance.
There was no entrance.
What had just been opened yesterday had already been closed.
Nervousness began to swell out of Muwui’s head.
“I must be half awake or something.”
Muwui returned to his stone bed again with a more serious expression.
He went back to sleep trying to wake up from this idiotic dream.
When he put his back on the stone, he could feel the warmth permeate through his entire body.
“Ah, how warm.”
After a moment, the room was once again filled with Muwui’s snores.
A man was looking at a wall in front of him. His appearance was like that of a girl that just got dumped, with his droopy shoulders helping him play the part.
Those shoulders trembled lightly.
It was a cry of a man who had lost everything.
His pitiful cries echoed throughout the entire cave.
“Mysterious encounter my ass…”
Tears ran down Muwui’s eyes.
In front of him was a closed-off wall.
“Fuck me, to think I was actually willing to allow myself to believe in such luck…”
He looked at the wall with tears streaming down his eyes.
To be more exact, he was looking at the books and the pills hidden beyond the wall.
The situation Muwui was in was no dream. He was stuck in the cave with neither pills nor books.
What made Muwui even more certain of the fact that he was imprisoned were the words inscribed on his bed. He had thought they were just patterns at first, but he later realized that they were words.
“What did it say again?”
Muwui’s eyes drifted off to the head of the bed.
The words written there started off with a “Dear Reader”.
“Dear Reader my ass, fuck…”
Muwui’s curses resounded through the cave.