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Chapter 1: Waiting for Someone

Volume one: Night's First Chapter—Sonata.

Autumn of 2022.

Tiny raindrops sprinkled down from the gray, mushy sky, gently landing on the city streets.

In the autumn afternoon, one can see pedestrians without umbrellas quickly passing by with their hands over their heads.

In the narrow Junmin Alley, a seventeen-year-old boy was sitting across from an old man under a canopy next to a small store's outdoor tables.

Outside, the world was made dark and gloomy by the rain, leaving only the small patch of ground under the canopy dry. It was almost as if this was the very last piece of land left in the entire world.

In front of them was a dilapidated wooden chessboard, and on top of them was a red sign with the words "Fulai Supermarket"1Original Chinese: 福来超市, which directly translates to Fortune Come Supermarket or Welcome Fortune Supermarket.

"Checkmate," said the boy as he stood up, leaving the old man, who was almost bald, staring at the chessboard2Note that all the "chess" in this book is referring to Chinese chess, aka Xiangqi. Here is an image for reference: http://bit.ly/wn-chess in a daze.

The boy, Qing Chen, glanced at the other side and calmly said, "There's no point in struggling anymore."

"I can still…" said the old man unwillingly, "it’s only been thirteen moves into the game…"

In his words, the old man was embarrassed at how badly he was beaten in chess after just thirteen moves.

Qing Chen didn't explain anything. The murderous intentions were clearly revealed from the placement of the chess pieces, and it would only be a matter of another move before a giant massacre.

The boy's face was clean and his eyes were clear. He was wearing a plain school uniform as if he was purifying the world around him to be a little more transparent.

The old man threw the chess piece in his hands onto the chessboard, admitting his defeat.

As if he was the only one here, Qing Chen walked behind the store's counter and took out a 20 yuan bill3A little over 3 USD at the time of writing from the change basket, placing the money into the pocket.

"I lose 20 yuan because of you every day! This morning, I just won 20 from Lao Li, and now it's in your pocket already!"

After taking the money, Qing Chen returned to his seat next to the chessboard and started placing back the chess pieces, "If it isn't because none of them are willing to play with me again, I won't be coming to you so frequently. You want your reputation, and I need my money. It's fair and square."

"So you are determined to hunt me down, aren't you?" murmured the old man, "The fortune teller said that I can live to seventy-eight years old, and I'm only fifty right now. If I lose 20 yuan to you every day, how much money will that be?"

"I don't just take your money for nothing," replied Qing Chen calmly, "You get to keep your reputation, so it isn't a bad deal."

"But all the ones you taught for the past few days are useless," complained the old man.

Qing Chen glanced at him, "You don't have to be so harsh to yourself."

Old man: "???"

The old man irritably re-arranged the chessboard and then eagerly said, "Fine, let's just do the replay."

Suddenly, Qing Chen lowered his head.

Everything that had happened just then was being repeated in his mind.

The cannon that came straight from ahead, the fierce pawns crossing the border… every move was being echoed in his head.

Not only that…

He also remembered the man that walked past them when they were playing chess. He was holding four sesame pancakes, which were still steaming hot, covering the thin plastic bag with a white mist.

There was a girl that walked by holding an umbrella; she was wearing a pair of leather shoes with two beautiful butterflies decorated on the top.

The crystal clear raindrops were still falling from the gray sky.

At the end of the alley, the Route 103 bus quickly went past by, and a woman in a cream-colored rain jacket quickly rushed toward the bus station.

The sound of footsteps and the sound of running water accumulating by the roadside all made the world seem extremely quiet.

Qing Chen didn't even leave out the slightest detail, but it was quite difficult.

However, difficult didn’t mean impossible.

His weird photographic memory was Qing Chen's innate talent. To him, it was as easy as picking an image out from the long river of time and storing the image inside a disk to retrieve.

Qing Chen resisted the dizziness that was slowly intensifying in his brain and picked up a chess piece.

The old man stopped talking and stared at the board intensely. Replaying the chess game was a rule that they agreed upon for the bet.

Qing Chen was responsible for teaching, and the old man would get a chess lesson after losing the money.

This scene was a bit weird. Qing Chen did not have the modesty and shyness that a young person tends to have when facing the elderly. Rather, he was like a teacher.

The two were already used to his.

"The red cannon on two, move horizontally to five; the black cannon on eight, move horizontally to five; the red knight on two, move to by three; the black knight on eight, move up to seven; the red rook on nine, move horizontally to eight…" Qing Chen called out the moves as he replayed the previous moves step by step4This might be a little confusing to anyone who never played chess before. Usually, people will write down their moves during chess to replay/analyze them later, but with our MC's incredible memory here, no paper and pencil are needed! If you are interested in learning a little more about Chinese chess, you can check out this video here about the rules: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UuDiL9CLPI.

The old man didn't blink his eyes while watching. On move six, he just didn't understand how he captured the opponent's knight yet still lost control of the chessboard.

"The core of this ‘Deadly Thirteen Moves’ is to sacrifice your knight by moving up the rook. This is the best strategy to rip open your opponent's defense," explained Qing Chen calmly, "I saw the match you had with another old man in Wang City Park the other day. He likes to line up his cannons to start off the game. Use this ‘Deadly Thirteen Moves' to match him next time. I'll guarantee you a win."

The old man thought about the moves he just learned and asked in a low voice, "Are you sure about that?"

"Learn the trick in a week, and you will get your reputation back," said Qing Chen, "Not to mention that he isn't that good after all…"

A hint of joy appeared on the old man's face.

But he suddenly asked, "If I can beat him within a week, then how long will it take for me to beat you?"

Under the canopy, Qing Chen thought about it in a serious manner, "If what the fortune teller said is accurate… so seventy-eight years old… you probably won't have enough time."

The old man's face was filled with disappointment, "If you talk a bit less, I might be able to live until seventy-nine… Hey, shouldn't you be having your self-study class in school right now? How come you left so early today?"

He knew that Qing Chen was a second-year high school student. Today was Tuesday, so he should be still in class at this time.

Qing Chen thought for a moment as replied, "I'm waiting for someone."

"Waiting for someone?" The old man was confused.

Qing Chen got up and looked at the drizzle outside the canopy. His eyes glancing around.

"Qing Chen, you are so good at chess, why don't you go attend those chess competitions? Didn't you say you need money right now? If you win the championship, you can get some prize money as well."

The boy shook his head, "I just memorized a lot of chess moves in my head, but that doesn’t mean I'm good at chess. I can still win a few rounds playing with you, but comparing to the real chess masters, I'm still an amateur. My goal is not to play chess. This is just temporary."

"It's all in your head…" The old man sighed, "For all these years, I thought photographic memory is just a myth."

The rain gradually stopped.

The old man noticed that Qing Chen moved slightly. He followed the boy's gaze and looked toward the end of Junmin Alley. He saw a couple walking with a little boy.

The middle-aged woman was wearing a delicate windbreaker, holding a cake box in her hand that had a beautiful purple ribbon.

The gray surrounding couldn't even hide the joyful look that the three of them had on their faces. Qing Chen turned around and left, leaving the old man sitting in front of the shop, signing.

The middle-aged woman saw Qing Chen's back, she called Qing Chen's name, but Qing Chen disappeared at the other end alley without looking back.

The walls on both sides of the alley looked very old. The white paint was peeling off, revealing patches of red bricks.

The person Qing Chen was waiting for finally came, but he didn't want to see the person anymore.

  • 1Original Chinese: 福来超市, which directly translates to Fortune Come Supermarket or Welcome Fortune Supermarket
  • 2Note that all the "chess" in this book is referring to Chinese chess, aka Xiangqi. Here is an image for reference: http://bit.ly/wn-chess
  • 3A little over 3 USD at the time of writing
  • 4This might be a little confusing to anyone who never played chess before. Usually, people will write down their moves during chess to replay/analyze them later, but with our MC's incredible memory here, no paper and pencil are needed! If you are interested in learning a little more about Chinese chess, you can check out this video here about the rules: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UuDiL9CLPI
  • We do not translate / edit.
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  • Comments 3

    1. Offline
      SnakeTheHerbivore
      + 20 -
      Quote: Immortalyxssine
      Why does it explain stuff in the middle of paragraphs?

      Well, that aside, it's readable just fine. Beggars can't be choosers, I guess.

      Its the translators notes, sInce this is an aggregate website its not formatted correctly. On the original website it might come up as like a little number you click on and read or just like a glossary woth numbers.

      Kinda sucks but like you said its readable so on we go
      Read more
    2. Offline
      Bloodbath
      + 40 -
      What an interesting way to start the story..
      Read more
    3. Online Offline
      Immortalyxssine
      + 60 -
      Why does it explain stuff in the middle of paragraphs?

      Well, that aside, it's readable just fine. Beggars can't be choosers, I guess.
      Read more