Oak International kindergarten was a 5-day boarding school, the children were let out 4 pm every Friday.
Bai Huo got off the mahjong table at noon, and specifically went to a Japanese restaurant to buy sea urchin sashimi. It was packed into a small box, ready to be used to coax his son.
The kindergarten’s gate resembled a luxury car show, extending from the parking lot to the street. Parents flocked like geese to the fence, stretching their necks to look inside.
As soon as Bai Huo appeared, the kindergarten silently raised a class-A defense warning. The eyes of the two child-care workers responsible for picking up and dropping off children widened, and they quickly closed the gate, as if they’d seen an enemy. Who could blame them, after witnessing Bai Huo being dragged out of the school by the headmaster, they no longer trusted in his deceptive elegant face.
Bai Huo was resentful, he had no choice but to go back to incite chaos among the noble ladies and nannies waiting outside the school to pick up their children.
“Don’t waste your energy, these people are aristocrats, they’ll just ignore you.” The childcare worker ridiculed from behind the fence.
Bai Huo was bored, he twirled the sea urchin lunch box around his index finger, not willing to admit defeat.
Ten minutes later, the upper-crust ladies tossed their Hermes handbags to the side and eagerly encircled Bai Huo, comparing and exchanging the “Parenting Scriptures”.
“Three with seven is more dangerous than four with six. In the event that you have a four, five and a six tile in your hand, if you draw a seven, it becomes four, five, six and seven, and at this time, you must discard four instead of seven. If you don’t see any major cards, you’re heading towards victory. If the 8 Character tile is already in a set, usually after 8 laps, you’ll be one tile away from a mahjong…” Bai Huo had dressed elegantly today, standing within a crowd of glittering upper-class ladies, he wasn’t at all overshadowed by their light, on the contrary, he’d become the focus of the crowd. While leading the crowd and speaking confidently, he didn’t forget to smirk proudly at the child care workers.
“Right, right, last time just like this, I went fishing alone …”
“Sir, sir, listen to me first, I …”
“Aiya, whose mother are you? You’ve never heard of first come first serve? So, little master, if the next player’s mahjong tiles …”
At first, a few noble ladies just frowned in dissatisfaction, but gradually, this escalated into scolding, then the scolding became swearing and the topics digressed even further. Soon, they even started criticizing their opponents’ eye-catching clothing for being unfashionable, saying that it couldn’t hide their lower-class stench. The bodyguards, nannies, and chauffeurs of each household felt offended on behalf of their madams, and each got out of the cars to help. Soon, a parade of people were hurling insults at each other in front of the school gates, the scene quickly becoming uncontrollable.
However, the inciter of this riot had already casually hopped over the fence while everyone was in disarray, following the little dragon cub’s breath to find his classroom.
The teachers were holding an award ceremony to reward the children who’d performed well this week, letting them step forward to wear a small flower pin and take a group photo. Li Lin Xi had an indifferent expression, propping his head on his arm, he blinked drowsily, but then he suddenly smelled his father’s breath. He sat instantly upright like he’d been injected with a stimulant, and looked out the door.
Just as expected, outside on the playground, a familiar figure sat on the slide and raised a hand at him with a smile.
Without a second thought, Li Lin Xi got up and ran out of the classroom.
The teachers were startled, reacting quickly, they chased after him.
At this point, the school dismissal bell was getting close, and there was no one in the school who didn’t know Bai Huo by now. The teachers knew that he’d come to pick up his child, so although they were angry that he’d jumped over the fence again, they didn’t make too much of a fuss. They fetched Li Lin Xi’s schoolbag for him, and reminded him to read the announcements before heading back to the classroom.
“Did you miss me?” After not meeting for three days, Bai Huo was particularly excited. He picked up his son and put him on his shoulder. “Come, let’s go home.”
The little dragon cub hugged him tightly, silent, then he leaned his head against Bai Huo’s head, and rubbed him lightly with his forehead, revealing a strong dependence and sadness.
Bai Huo thought that the child would be so happy to see him that he’d shake his tail, he didn’t expect him to look so gloomy, and maybe even a little angry. Bai Huo’s heart shook.
“Are you hungry? I brought you sea urchins, they’re raw ah.” Bai Huo tried to divert the little dragon cub’s attention with food.
But the little dragon cub not only didn’t take a look, he even started sniffling.
Oh no! Bai Huo’s internal alarm bell buzzed. This was the kickoff to crying.
“Baby, what’s wrong?” Bai Huo quickly put the dragon cub down and looked at him face to face. “What happened? Did the school treat you badly? Are your classmates bullying you?”
The little dragon cub glanced at him and shook his head.
The little dragon cub looked at him with big eyes, solemn, and said in a quiet voice, “You said, you’ll stay with me.”
Bai Huo’s conscience couldn’t help but ache.
The little dragon cub turned his schoolbag over and unzipped it, then he hugged Bai Huo.
“What’s this?” Bai Huo saw that the bag was full of snacks, most likely the snacks handed out by the kindergarten teachers.
“It’s for you.” The little dragon cub looked at his face. “Can’t eat alone.”
Bai Huo froze in place, he snapped out of it a few moments later, a dense guilt slowly swallowing his heart.
It was actually very strange for Bai Huo to feel so guilty. His conscience has been missing for many years, and his mouth had no handbrake. He couldn’t even remember all the random things he’d said in this life. As soon as it was out of his mouth, he’d forget about it, but the child had taken it seriously.
In the beginning, it was he who’d promised to stay with the child, it was also he who’d nonsensically told the little dragon cub that he would be sad if he couldn’t eat delicious food with him. Looking at the schoolbag full of snacks, he could almost imagine how this child would pretend to eat after the teacher sent the snacks, then secretly hide them in his schoolbag for his father. Who knew how many days it took to fill up such a large bag.
“Lin Xi,” Bai Huo felt incredibly moved, sincerely admitting his mistakes, “I’m sorry, please forgive me.”
The little dragon cub tilted his head at him, after a few beats, he walked over, his small arms wide open to hug him. Meaning, it doesn’t matter.
Bai Huo hugged the child, tears in his heart, why is my son so good! So good!
Soon, Bai Huo felt distressed again.
Heavens, the kindergarten gave out homework, even worse, it was arts and crafts work. Staring at the info on the phone screen, the loving, level 10 Klutz father felt very unenthusiastic.
The father and son had just eaten their fill, and were both lying on the sofa to air out their stuffed bellies.
The fat bird had gone out to catch bugs in the forest. He’d recently fallen in love, the chasing after the Hwamei bird occupying his life.
The temperature had risen in the past two days, there was still a little bit of heat just after dinnertime. The little dragon cub stretched in Bai Huo’s arms, he seemed to be uncomfortable, constantly twisting and turning. At first, Bai Huo thought that he wanted to use the toilet, but he noticed that the child’s back was drenched with sweat, so he quickly took off his clothes. After thinking about it, he exposed the white dragon scales on his belly so the child could cool out on top of him.
Bai Huo was born with a low body temperature, with his white scales, he was colder than other dragons. The little dragon cub spread out his four limbs and relaxed on his belly. As he shifted along with Bai Huo’s breathing, his eyes narrowed in satisfaction. This was the first time he’d seen the scales of an adult dragon; he was very curious. He incessantly poked around with his paws, observing Bai Huo’s reactions, seemingly trying to test out the hardness.
“Cub, we need to have a discussion …” Bai Huo looked at the outlandish handcraft projects requested by the kindergarten and said resolutely, “Let’s call your Uncle Ji.”
The little dragon cub poked at Bai Huo’s strong adult dragon scales, then poked at his own belly. How sad, there were only a few small, recently grown in feathers.
“Lin Xi?” When Bai Huo didn’t hear a response, he looked down just in time to see this movement. “Pfft,” he laughed out loud, “Little bald dragon, what are you poking?”
The little dragon cub turned red, and glared at him.
“Okay, okay,” Bai Huo forcibly restrained his laughter, and comforted him. “It’ll take at least ten years for your scales to completely grow, it’s pointless to fret about it.”
The little dragon cub’s horns drooped.
With that motion, Bai Huo finally noticed that the little guy’s horns seemed to have grown some more. In just one week, a half a finger length branch had grown on the tip of his horns, with a thin layer of fuzz on top, it looked very fluffy.
Although Bai Huo had overactive hands, he still restrained himself from touching the child’s horns. Newly-grown dragon horns were very fragile, even a slight squeeze could snap them in half. Horn growth and bone growth were synchronized, this rapid horn growth meant that the dragon cub’s divine bone was also growing rapidly, which was a good development. The only problem was that it seemed to be a bit early.
But Bai Huo also didn’t think that this was particularly alarming, after all, the dragons were a race with huge discrepancies in talent between individuals. Dragons could reach adulthood as late as the prophet who’d predicted that Bai Huo would have a love disaster, who became an adult in his 70’s. Currently, he had wrinkled skin and almost no teeth. They could also reach adulthood as early as He Ling, who became an adult at the age of 13, conveniently breaking the adulthood record for female dragons. Either way, there wasn’t anything to panic about.
Dragons had only one human form for their entire lives, their appearance was fixed from birth. Most dragons could switch between the two forms after three months. But after they were a little bit bigger, and the divine bone was more mature, talented ones could freely switch parts of their bodies. For example, Bai Huo could expose just the scales on his abdomen while maintaining human form.
The divine bone was a ring-sized, crescent-shaped bone located at the nape of dragons. It was the proof that their ancestors had obtained divinity at the chaotic beginning of the world. It was also the source of all their divine powers. After a dragon reached adulthood, the divine bone would freeze their age, allowing them to maintain the shape in which they’d reached adulthood. After hundreds of years, the divine bone would gradually lose effectiveness, and they’d start aging at the rate of regular people.
Most dragons reach adulthood between their 20s and 40s. Because the human forms of dragons were generally of a higher quality than the average human, the dragon race as a whole appeared very youthful. He Ling and other dragons like her were in the minority. Because she reached adulthood too early, her human form was fixed at the age of 13. She will look like a little Lolita forever.
The divine bone was an ordinary bone, it could be dug out or damaged. A dragon wouldn’t immediately die after losing their divine bone, but they would gradually lose their spiritual power, and retreat into their human form, never able to take their dragon form. It made sense that this was the punishment for violating the First Dragon Convention. For dragons, who were accustomed to having a lifespan of at least 500 years, becoming a human, who only had a short 20-30 years of peak vigor and youthfulness, was a dreadful thing. It was no different than being diagnosed with cancer. No one would wish cancer on themselves, so the dragon race’s first convention was respected by everyone.
From a father’s point of view, Bai Huo didn’t want the little dragon cub to reach adulthood too early. A young shape was admittedly very flexible and light, but as a man, being too young and physically weak, forever unable to reach peak performance, wasn’t very desirable.
The little dragon cub had tired himself out, and had fallen asleep on top of Bai Huo’s scales. Bai Huo carefully rolled him onto the sofa, intending to go call Ji Bei to come do these wretched arts and crafts assignments. But a few seconds later, the little dragon cub frowned and kicked out, grabbing onto his ice-cold scales.
Bai Huo had no choice but to lie back down again. Forget it, it’s more important for his son to sleep.
I had to learn freakin mahjong just for that one freakin paragraph. An hour and a half just to translate 1 paragraph (probably inaccurately I might add). I haven’t been this mad since FOD chap 12, which needed a freakin glossary.
Poor you, mahjong seems very complicated! Even with explanations, I don’t understand very well this game. So it must be very difficult to translate.
Now you made me want to reread FOD chapter 12. ?
Thank you for translating this story.