How could it be not known?
The self-service haircut robot required guests to manually set the desired hairstyle. There were not too many types to choose from, and the complicated ones could not be cut, but it was already enough for boys. Standing in front of the setting panel, Chu Rong waited for the instrument to scan Qiao Zhiya’s head shape and existing hairstyle. After clicking here and there in the options, he finally selected a neat short hairstyle and clicked OK.
The robot received the order, extended an arm to hold Qiao Zhiya’s head, kept him from moving, and accurately cut with scissors.
The sound of kachakacha sounded intensively above his head, and shattered hair fell continuously. Qiao Zhiya sat unable to move, afraid that his ears would move because of too much nervousness, so he simply turned his eyes around and looked around to divert his attention.
Chu Rong found him looking around randomly. He thought about it, walked in front of him, took out a free candy from the hospitality jar of the self-service barber booth, opened it, fed it to his mouth, and asked, “What are you looking at?”
The candy was a kind of fruit hard candy with a nice color and a sweet smell. Qiao Zhiya was taken aback by his candid action of feeding him sugar. He looked at him, opened his mouth, and ate the candy. He turned the candy with his tongue in his mouth. He wanted to shake his head but found that he couldn’t move and could only say, “Nothing.”
“Tan Shengwei will take you to report on Monday.” Chu Rong didn’t continue to ask this question, but directly changed the topic. He stepped sideways and leaned to the side, looking a little nonchalant. With his casual clothes, he looked a lot more gentle. “I’ve asked him to inform the school in advance. Your situation is special and there may be areas where you can’t adapt. However, since you have chosen a difficult path, you must stick to it. You must work hard and don’t waste this opportunity.”
His eyes looked calm with encouragement, like a gentle spring breeze blowing head-on. It was completely different from his usual indifference and depth. Qiao Zhiya stared at him. After a short absentmindedness, a gentle feeling spread in his heart and replied, “I won’t let you lose face.”1[In Chinese culture, the concept of ‘face’ refers to the amount of “dignity” or “prestige” that’s associated with an individual.]
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On the fourth floor of the mall, a fat boy poked the tall youth next to him and curiously said, “Chu Yan, I seem to have seen your elder brother. He seemed to be with someone who’s around our age. It’s strange.”
The tall youth was drooling while holding the auction poster. Hearing that, he said without raising his head, “You must be mistaken. My eldest brother can only accompany my sister-in-law when he comes to the mall. It will never be a child as big as us, but a beautiful woman like my sister-in-law.”
“It’s not your eldest brother, it’s your second brother. I can’t mistake that white hair. Quickly look, just in case it’s him.” Seeing that he still ignored him, the fat boy became angry and simply took away the poster from his hand.
“Honestly, you’re really…” The tall youth couldn’t stop him and was unable to persuade him to hand back the poster. He reluctantly looked in the direction he was pointing, but he didn’t even see a single strand of white hair. He couldn’t help but roll his eyes at the fat boy, grabbed the poster, and said, “Yuan Xiu, did you stay up late again last night? Your young eyes are so bad. How can you enter the military academy in the future? Be careful that your father whips you. My second brother is visiting the mall? If you say this, 80% of the people in the Federation will surely not believe it.”
The fat boy, that was, Yuan Xiu, was still not reconciled. He looked suspiciously at the place where the figure was no longer visible and scratched his head, “But that man really resembled him, and I slept quite early last night…”
“There are many people who follow the trend and dye their hair white, especially those mecha fighters with high physique— making a lot of people look similar.” Chu Yan replied indifferently. He then carefully looked at the bold remarks column on the poster, patted him on the shoulder, and excitedly said, “A mysterious weapon! We’re right this time. It must be a good thing to make Famous Brands promote it like this. Let’s go find Fan Qi first to get some internal information to satisfy our thirst.”
This time, it was Yuan Xiu who rolled his eyes. He frowned and said, “Don’t always bother Fan Qi. We’re not in the same group as him. He’s now promoted to the military academy and is a reserve soldier. He’s busy. Please stop it.”
“It’s him who has been promoted to the military academy that can’t stop. Otherwise, what do you think my eldest brother is doing to give his family a batch of mutated red tin ores and let Famous Brand make gimmicks? Fan Qi is a talent. The eldest sister of the Fan family is cunning and neutral. The Fan family is such a huge chunk of meat. When Fan Qi enters the military academy, do you think the others will stop?” Chu Yan, wearing an unreliable face filled with baby fat, said scheming words and bluffed Yuan Xiu for a while.
“You’re really…” Yuan Xiu felt that he suddenly didn’t know his good friend.
“It’s time to learn the ways of the world, naive boy, okay?” Chu Yan carelessly patted him on the shoulder. He craftily broke his act of rigorous schemes and deep foresight in an instant and continued to drool over the poster with greedy eyes, “Erge2[二哥 translates to ‘second brother.’ He’s pertaining to Chu Rong.] must have forgotten to buy the mecha model I asked him. I have to make up some inventory here and see the latest limited model on the shelves. It’s too handsome! I have to ask Fan Qi to order one privately!
“Fortunately, I’m resourceful. I secretly created an escape route using Fan Qi. Look. From now on, we don’t have to worry about our models in the future. Why don’t you quickly thank this bro!”
Yuan Xiu, “…” This was indeed the friend he was familiar with.
After buying school supplies as quickly as possible, Chu Rong took Qiao Zhiya into the deserted first floor of the mall and took two strange devices from a custom shop.
“This is a spiritual power simulator.” Chu Rong fiddled with the two earrings, took one of them, pinned it to his ear, pressed the gem button on it, and touched it again.
A slightly sharp spiritual force flashed by his ear. The place wearing the simulator was hot, and then a strange feeling came. Qiao Zhiya couldn’t help raising his hand and touching the earring. He looked up at Chu Rong, who for some reason had an ugly expression.
“In your case, you should have gone to a special college. However, since you want to learn mecha manufacturing, it’s not appropriate for you to go to a special college, so I asked Xiang Nan to send you to an ordinary junior college.” Chu Rong pulled his short hair a bit, slightly covering the stud earring inlaid with light green gemstone, and explained in detail, “Ordinary colleges and universities often use spiritual power in their daily classes. If you don’t have it, it will be very inconvenient, so I asked people to make this. This gem-like thing is actually a reminder light. When the spiritual power stored in it is almost exhausted, the gem will turn red, and your ear will feel hot. Remember to remove the ear stud, put on the spare one, and then take the depleted one back for me to replenish its spiritual power.”
Qiao Zhiya understood what Chu Rong meant when he said that he would encounter a lot of unsuitable places in school — it turned out that his “third-degree disability” was so troublesome even for attending an ordinary college. The White-Haired Monster must have been worried about it. He took the spare ear stud and nodded obediently.
Chu Rong looked at his obedient appearance and frowned more deeply. His low tone had a hint of reassurance as he said, “If you wear this, other students may look at you with different eyes. You mustn’t care. If someone laughs at you for this, just beat them back directly. They should not be as strong as you.”
Qiao Zhiya, who had figured out his character a little bit, guessed the reason for his unhappiness. He smiled up at him and replied, “I won’t let people bully me. Don’t worry.”
Chu Rong didn’t negate his words this time regarding his worries. He ruffled his short hair, which now appeared more youthful just like him after cutting it short, and said, “Don’t be so stupid all the time.”
Qiao Zhiya continued to laugh, rubbing against his hand affectionately.
During lunch, they found a restaurant with good privacy. After the meal, Chu Rong took Qiao Zhiya to the floor featuring mecha models and bought a set of models for him. He was about to take him to the ancient martial arts training hall when he saw him standing still under the billboard and staring at a poster.
He followed his line of sight, read the words on the poster, and became a little bit interested, “Famous Brands’ mecha models and accessories auction?”
Qiao Zhiya returned to his senses, hurriedly walked to him, and said, “Sorry, I accidentally got distracted. Where did you say we were going? Let’s go.” Unexpectedly, the auction of the giant sword was actually held in this mall. Blame him for being careless, because he didn’t know the surrounding environment and didn’t pay attention to the location of the auction. He didn’t expect it to be so coincidental. The mall Chu Rong brought him to happened to be the mall where the auction was being held.
At this time, Chu Rong didn’t leave. He stared at the words of the mysterious weapon on the poster. He remembered his brother who was asking him for a model when they met last time. He narrowed his eyes and said, “Let’s go and have a look at this auction.”
“Ah?” Qiao Zhiya froze.
“Need to buy something.” Chu Rong replied as he walked towards the floor where the auction was being held.
Translator’s NoteThe previous weeks since classes started have been overwhelming and I wasn’t able to update. Despite that, there are still readers who are wholeheartedly sending comments, likes, and Ko-fis to this pitiful translator. I am deeply greatful. Our exam week will start on Monday and wish me luck!
By the way, I have changed ‘Uncle Chu’ to ‘Ancestor Chu’ and ‘variant red tin ore’ to ‘mutant red tin ore.’