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Hey, Wake Up, You’ve Been Ranked
It’s been peaceful ever since the end of the Orange Prince’s corruption case. Actually it’s been so boring, I’ve got nothing to do that I’m panicking.
I couldn’t ask for more.
You must understand that being free at home and being free with nothing to do at work are two different things.
Being free and doing nothing at home is a waste of your life.
Sitting around doing nothing at work and still getting paid however, is the greatest bliss in the world.
I did everything I could to get the best compensation possible for getting hurt in the line of duty. I avoided every shift I could skip, every street I didn’t have to patrol and every job I could avoid. Su Xiao always lectured me when he returned, and Tang Ye was always looking at me resentfully to ask: “Are we going to duel tonight?”
Of course, I covered myself with my blanket so I wouldn’t have to see anything. Hey! Who said I’m doing lewd stuff under the blankets?! I heard you!
But I must credit the three doctors as their treatments really helped. They diagnosed me as being poisoned with the Five Venoms Divine Water mixed with some other types of venom. Fortunately for me, the venom didn’t enter the fatal zones in my body or I’d be cold in the ground.
I did everything I could to get them to prescribe me some Saussurea involucrata and other similar types of expensive herbs, but those three doctors were as stingy as I am. They wouldn’t give me anything other than red bean-paste to invigorate my spleen and replenish my qi.
To compensate for it, I snuck into the warehouse and stole three jugs of Laojiao*. They tasted absolutely fantastic!
My only regret is the box of gold. I heard Boss Shen shared it with the new constables after the gold was washed. What a waste…
I’ve been flipping through Liu Shan Men’s versions of the Black and White Reflection in my room the last few days. I easily learnt about the system regulating warriors of the royal court.
Liu Shan Men, the Qilin Guards and the emperor’s entourage aren’t regulated by the royal court’s orthodox regulation system. Boss Shen inherited her father’s title as an A-rank warrior, but that only affects her treatment, not her power and rights. She is only permitted to regulate members of Liu Shan Men. The same applies for the captain of the Qilin Guards. Sure, he’s a hot-shot everywhere he goes, but he’s only permitted to regulate the Qilin Guards.
However, the universal system used to govern warriors by the royal court is fairly rich.
The areas that officials govern usually have some sort power, groups and individuals from the pugilistic world active there. Without a strong warrior from the royal court to assist them, things can get tough for them, so you can imagine how they are treated by those officials.
The measure they use for measuring a warrior’s capabilities is none other the Liu Shan’s Elite Rankings. The officials will start paying attention to you once you’re ranked, and even ask you to deal with issues in the martial world in the area that they govern. But along with the shit and tiring jobs…
The good part is, I’m always bludging work and avoiding my shifts, so I won’t get ranked. As I was considering whether I should refill my cup or not after my last drink, someone knocked on my door from outside.
“Master Ming, Master Ming.”
I flew to my bed like a kite and pulled my blanket over myself. The guard that knocked pushed the door open and came inside since I didn’t respond.
My room is connected to Su Xiao and Tang Ye. We’re only three rooms apart. The guards who’ve been responsible for delivering me my meals these last few days have remembered where my room is.
I closed my eyes as soon as I heard him enter. The guard didn’t just leave my meal there and leave when he saw me asleep as he usually did though. Instead, he approached me, gave me few nudges and said: “Wake up, Master Ming.”
Get lost. How do you intend to wake someone who’s pretending to be asleep?
“Master Ming, hurry and wake up. You’ve been ranked!”
I got ranked for sleeping in my room for ten days?! What the heck has the world come to?!
I woke up shocked and asked: “What rankings?”
The guard exultantly exclaimed: “Liu Shan’s Elite Rankings! Vice-captain Shen asked me to get the three of you. Master Su and Master Tang are already in the courtyard. You’re the only one they’re waiting on.”
I pushed the guard aside and ran to Su Xiao and Tang Ye. We then went straight to Boss Shen’s office. “Ming Feizhen corps. reporting in!”
Yes, that stupid name… Yes, my name was used because I was the eldest. Other famous teams come up with different names, but I don’t want to stand out, so I decided against it.
Having not seen our boss for a few days, she’s gotten even more beautiful. She left her long hair down behind her freely today. She looked more feminine than usual, but it was very befitting of her usual demeanour where she doesn’t concern herself over petty matters, and her generous and candid personality.
She didn’t seem to be in a bad mood as she giggled while looking at us.
“Not bad. You three were ranked today on Liu Shan’s Elite Rankings.”
That’s the one. I was waiting for you to say that. Please give me a reasonable and logical explanation!
“I promoted you guys of course.” I’ve found that Boss Shen likes to act cool when she gets her way and will suavely wave her hands, and say: “No need to thank me.”
Then she’ll close her eyes, and wait for us to praise and worship her.
Tang Ye looked like he found it strange and didn’t expect it either. Nevertheless, he sincerely said: “Thank you, vice-captain.”
Su Xiao of course was in party-mode. He grabbed my sleeve and excitedly jumped up and down, and said : “How can we not thank you? Did you hear that, Brother Ming? We’ve been ranked! Look, look, I’m ranked two-hundred and fortieth!”
Only I was criticising: “Oh, quit it. You call that getting ranked? Liu Shan’s Elites Rankings only have one-hundred places. How’d you get ranked two-hundred and fortieth?”
Boss Shen then shot herself in the foot as she stared at me and said: “You’re not entirely correct. The official version you see only ranks the top one-hundred. Why ‘top one-hundred’? That’s because the top one-hundred are selected from a larger list. The top one-hundred is the official one everyone sees. This is the underground ranking, which ranks the top one-hundredth and one to the top four hundred. Ming Feizhen, don’t spout nonsense if you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“What do you mean I’m spouting nonsense?”
I’ve been reading a lot of the Black and White Reflection these last few days in my room. I counted my fingers like a mathematician and said: “The official version of Liu Shan’s Elite Rankings only ranks the top one-hundred warriors in the royal court. Everybody knows the top twenty are relatively special. The remaining eighty are ranked using the celestial stem**. The top twenty one to top forty are designated the Jia level. Ranks forty one to sixty are Yi level, and so one. Haha. Two hundredth and forty? You won’t even make the Ren or Gui levels.”
Su Xiao pursed his lips, disappointed and kept silent.
“Enough from you, Ming Feizhen!” Shen Yiren stood up and showed her beautiful face.
Shit! The boss is going to lose it now! Before I could even start evading, Shen Yiren grabbed my ear and pulled me over.
“Why do you always go against me? Who’s your boss?!”
“So whose orders do you follow then?”
“You! Now let go.”
This is embarrassing! Su Xiao was laughing. Su Xiao laughing is nothing new. But Tang Ye, you block of wood… Can’t you even smile like “Sucked in”? God, I want to hit you!
But our boss wasn’t done. She continued pinching me ear and said: “Okay, in that case, what’s the status of the case of the thief who stole the three jugs of Laojiao in the warehouse that I asked you to investigate yesterday? Have you found the culprit?”
Oh, about that…
“I’m still investigating it. The culprit is extremely clever, sly, smart, suave and handsome. He didn’t leave any clues behind.”
“How dare you bullshit me!” Shen Yiren smacked me in the face with an inkstone again… Hey, enough! What the hell is with you and your bloody inkstones?! How many times is this?!
“Su Xiao found the three jugs in your room. Ming Feizhen, you trying to be clever now, are you? You’re even stealing wine from the warehouse now.”
Su Xiao!! You fucking traitor!
Didn’t we agree to keep that secret?! I treated you like a brother and yet you betrayed me?!
When Su Xiao saw the murderous intent in my eyes, he was slightly confused, and quickly avoided eye-contact: “What we said a few days ago doesn’t count. And Tang Ye said you didn’t even return at night.”
Fuck you, Tang Ye! Make sure you hide yourself here you bitch!!
Tang Ye returned my look of determination and hinted: Alright, tonight, how about it?
Me: Fuck you! Who’d want to meet you at night!
Tang Ye put on a blatantly obvious expression of disappointment. Su Xiao didn’t understand our eye-conversation and looked on with envy… Could you please not act like that? It makes the atmosphere in our team weird.
*Laojiao = A very famous liquor in China
** The ten Celestial or Heavenly Stems are a Chinese system of ordinals that first appear during the Shang dynasty, ca. 1250 BCE, as the names of the ten days of the week. They were also used in Shang-period ritual as names for dead family members, who were offered sacrifices on the corresponding day of the Shang week.
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