Talking About The Mystic Nine In The Rain Village

[The Author’s Notes: I was a very good-looking man among writers, but now I have developed a triple chin after writing all these novels….]


“When it comes to the Mystic Nine, I only know the bits and pieces of their stories. But there are some trivial things that you may not know about.” Jin Wantang lit a cigarette. He was collecting corbels (1) and old furniture in Fujian, so he came to visit us.

He gave us a lot of beverages, but it was easy to see that he hadn’t really spent time preparing gifts for us. He bought the stuff straight from the canteen’s supermarket in town, which was at the foot of the mountain.

Fatty was going through the stuff Jin Wantang brought us and took out a box of low-calorie drinks that were called Black Black Milk (2). Fatty was amused and said, “What Black Black Milk? This company needs to find me to endorse them. If they want to find someone with black nipples, I’m the best person for this.”

Jin Wantang ignored him and continued talking to me, “This incident can only be seen as gossip, but it’s an interesting story, so I’ll tell you about it.”

I was sorting out the legends about the Mystic Nine, and this man knew a lot of things. He could always tell a lot of stories whenever he showed up, all of which were stories that I had never heard from Grandpa.

Most of the Mystic Nine stories turned into folk tales in the end, so it was extremely difficult to know the truth of what happened at that time. According to Jin Wantang, if those who bought and sold antiques in the alleys back then could tell a few Mystic Nine stories, then they would be considered skilled antique dealers. This was because it meant that they had been to Changsha and stepped onto the lands of the Mystic Nine’s leaders.

The Mystic Nine always acted very secretively, so people from all walks of life began making up many stories since only telling two or three wouldn’t be enough. After a while, most of the stories became oddities.

I was a little bored before Jin Wantang came to visit us, but after he showed up, the house became livelier. I figured his words might lift my spirits.

“You all know about the major events. But when it comes to the trivial things, even Little Master Three may not know about them clearly. Let me ask you a question: Among the Mystic Nine, which person was the fattest? Can you answer it?” Jin Wantang took a puff of his cigarette and showed his teeth. “Everyone in the Mystic Nine was a hero, but there were definitely some that were fat and some that were thin. It’s impossible to say that everyone in the Mystic Nine wore the same size of clothes because it’s not in accordance with the laws of history.”

Among the Mystic Nine, Zhang Qishan was from the Zhang family and he was a soldier who had marched and gone to war, so his body must’ve been strong and lean. Er Yuehong was an opera singer who was good at using rock climbing sticks to jump around, so he must’ve been thin. Chen Pi Ah Si (aka Grandpa Si), my grandpa, and Granny Huo were all thin people.

The possibilities were narrowed down to Banjie Li, Black Back the Sixth, Qi Ba Ye, and Jiuye.

Master Six was a beggar, so he must not have been fat. The remaining three people had a better life, but Jiuye abused morphine. If I had to guess, it would be safer to say that the fattest one was either Banjie Li or Qi Ba Ye.

But before I could even say a word, Fatty immediately said, “It must’ve been Zhang Qishan. The generals back in the day were all fat.”

Jin Wantang shook his head and said contemptuously, “Tsk, Fat Master, you’ve gotten old and senile. Zhang Da Fo Ye would use his index and middle fingers to test the holes of tombs. If he was fat, what would he do when his hands got stuck in the holes?”

Fatty said, “He could’ve had a fat body and thin hands.”

“Was he Spongebob then?” Jin Wantang got angry. “You can argue with me, but your arguments have to be logical.”

I almost burst out laughing. I didn’t expect that Jin Wantang also watched cartoons.

Fatty stretched out his fat hands and poured tea for Jin Wantang. “Fine. Tell us who it is.”

“You’d never guess it,” Jin Wantang said. “Among the Mystic Nine, the fattest person was Old Dog Wu, Grandpa Dog.” With that said, he looked at me and then looked at my stomach. “Little Master Three, you’ve inherited this from your grandfather as well. If it hadn’t been for the fact that you’ve been running around over the past few years, you would’ve had the same figure as Fat Master.”

Oh? I suddenly became interested.

My grandpa was very thin before he died. It seemed that the people in the Mystic Nine were as thin as dry corpses before they died. I had never heard Grandpa say that he was fat. And when I looked at the old photos we had, I couldn’t see what he looked like when he was young because it was such a long time ago. This was the first time I had heard that my grandpa was a fat man.

“How do you know about this?” I asked.

Jin Wantang said, “I’m not making this up. In the 1980s, your grandmother told the director of Hangzhou Federation of Literary and Art Circles about it. Her original words were: Mr. Wu was very busy before he came to Hangzhou, so when he first came to Hangzhou and started to settle down, he and his dogs became fat. The dogs he brought with him were as fat as pigs and could hardly walk. It was a good thing that Er Ye gave him sesame, brome, and black beans as ingredients for his diet. He ate those things and lost weight.”

With that said, Jin Wantang looked at Fatty’s belly. “It’s not that I’m judging you, Fat Master, but we aren’t young anymore. We’ve aged. Maybe you should consider losing some weight. Since we haven’t died in any tombs, it’s not worth it if we die because we have a very wealthy lifestyle.”

Fatty rubbed his belly and sighed, “My amazing fat body has been with me for half a lifetime, so I can’t bear to lose it. You know that people can miss past relationships. This fat has been to the Heavenly Palace in the Clouds. If I kill it as soon as I retire, what does that make me? Isn’t it like burning my bridges or killing my employees after what we’ve been through? Killing my fat after all it’s done for me? I can’t do that. I have to hold it in high regard.” With that said, Fatty shook his belly.

I didn’t remember Grandma ever mentioning this before, so I felt surprised.

Jin Wantang continued, “Er Ye—also known as Er Yuehong—was also famous for being particular about food. There’s one amusing thing that I think you’ll also be interested in. You all know that Er Ye’s wife loved cooking noodles and he loved her for it. But this could also be a very troublesome thing…”


It rained a lot that year. Changsha hadn’t had such heavy rain in a long time. Er Yuehong looked at the Xiang River downstairs. There were only a few small boats parked in the middle of the river during the heavy rain. The rain was pouring down and the weather was exceptionally cool.

He was leaning against the railing and peeling an orange. The rain curtain was only a short distance away from him, but no matter how he moved, the rain would never touch him.

“Er Ye, you’re a really cautious person. No one can find any flaws in your behavior. I can tell what you’re doing because I’ve been with you for a long time. If it were other people, they would never know.” The housekeeper came up to take away the orange peel. He was all wet because of the rain, so he hastily wiped himself dry.

They were the only two in the wing room. Before the housekeeper came, Er Yuehong had silently watched the clouds gather before the rain started. When he was a child, he liked to stand in this spot and watch the boats on the Xiang River at night. The lights on the boats illuminated the river, making the water look colorful. Now he no longer liked such a view at night. Maybe it was because he finally understood what kind of business those people on the boats were up to.

He was here today to wait for the game that Old Ba had bought from hunters after he went to pick up goods from the mountains. Now it seemed that Old Ba was probably delayed because of the rain and was stuck at one of the piers on the Xiang River. Since the rain was so heavy, there was no need for him to keep waiting anymore. But he had no idea why the housekeeper suddenly showed up.

“Now it seems that you don’t even mean it when you say something nice to me.” Er Yuehong smiled upon seeing how weary the housekeeper looked.

He handed the housekeeper the tablecloth from his table. The other man wrapped it around his neck to block the water that was dripping from his hair. The housekeeper managed a smile, but he seemed to be struggling to say something.

“Why did you come here all of a sudden?”

The housekeeper knew that Er Yuehong didn’t like to make small talk, so he nodded. “Er Ye, your wife is in the kitchen again.”

Er Yuehong’s expression changed. “Are you sure?”

“I’m absolutely positive. Moreover, she’s even made a bun.” The housekeeper wiped the water off of his face. “She’s definitely going to cook noodles.”

Er Yuehong looked at the heavy rain outside the window, his face indifferent but solemn.

“Er Ye, you need to talk to your wife. We can’t keep eating noodles. We’ve been eating them for almost a whole season. That’s three months now. Whenever we hold a feast to treat our guests now, Fo Ye, Ba Ye, and Jiuye won’t come. Even Master Five, who isn’t picky about food and loves free meals, avoids us. Er Ye, please.” The housekeeper’s eyes suddenly became watery. “Last time, I brought your wife’s noodles to Master Six and he flipped his bowl upside down so that I wouldn’t be able to put the noodles in it.”

Er Yuehong turned his head and glanced at the housekeeper coldly.

The housekeeper had obviously thrown caution to the wind. “Er Ye, you pamper your wife too much. The country had a great harvest this year. Hubei, Hunan, Guangdong, and Guangxi have various foods this year, so we can eat everything we want. We’re a wealthy household in Changshan. We can’t eat plain soup and noodles every day. This isn’t good for the underlings’ health.”

“There are people from the north who love eating noodles (3). Is it that difficult for you to eat them?” Er Yuehong took a bite of the orange. “My wife usually only cooks noodles for me. She sees that you’re all working so hard and wants to cook for you. Her noodles were famous among the elders in Changsha back in the day. Those who didn’t know her well wouldn’t even get to eat her noodles. You’ve only eaten the noodles for three months. It’s not like you’re eating them every day. There’s nothing to complain about.”

The housekeeper nodded and sighed. “Then I’ll go and buy more sauces. Er Ye, are you coming with me?”

Er Yuehong turned his head away. “No. I’m going to eat at Fo Ye’s house! They’re eating dumplings today,” he said coldly without looking at the housekeeper.

The housekeeper’s eyes widened and he swallowed his saliva upon hearing the word “dumplings”. He watched Er Yuehong open his oil-paper umbrella and go downstairs.

Er Yuehong didn’t actually know if the people in Zhang Qishan’s household were having dumplings today. But he knew that it wasn’t easy to enter the other eight households most of the time, so he couldn’t possibly bother them just because he didn’t want to eat noodles.

He wandered along the street beside the Xiang River. When he made it to where there were lights by the river, he was finally starting to feel a little hungry. He walked to a stall that sold butter tea (4) and whose owner was from the northwest.

After Er Yuehong sat down, he noticed that all of his underlings were there. Everyone looked awkward.

“Why aren’t you eating at home?” Er Yuehong asked.

The housekeeper brought a bowl of butter milk over and put it in front of Er Yuehong. “Er Ye, why ask this question when you know the answer?”

Er Yuehong raised his hand, took a sip of the butter tea, and then suddenly smiled. “You guys are clever. When we were young and went into the mountains, we used to have butter tea from the northwest since it would make us really full. After we went underground, the butter tea kept us from feeling hungry. I didn’t expect that I would be able to have it after so many years have passed.”

The housekeeper gave him a thumbs up. “You knew what it was as soon as you drank it. You’re definitely an expert. You began drinking less butter tea after you got married. Back in those days, we also lived off of butter tea for several months. Is it better than your wife’s noodles?”

Er Yuehong rolled his eyes at the housekeeper and then suddenly thought of something. “Since you’re not at home, what’s my wife going to do?”

The housekeeper said, “Your wife realized we were gone, so she’s taken the noodles to Fo Ye’s house to find you.”

Er Yuehong frowned and spit out the butter tea before immediately standing up and heading to Zhang Qishan’s house.

<Huo Lin – Blue And White Porcelain><Table of Contents><>


TN Notes:

(1) A corbel is a structural piece of stone, wood, or metal jutting from a wall to carry a superincumbent weight, a type of bracket. Think of something like this:

(2) This story is an advertisement for a sesame company. Black Black Milk is one of their products. Sesame seeds, oatmeal, and black beans are the ingredients of Black Black Milk. The Mystic Nine extra, New Sesame Seeds, is also a story sponsored by this company. 

(3) Chinese noodles are generally made from wheat flour. Geographically speaking, the lands of northern China are suitable for growing wheat while the lands in southern China are suitable for growing rice. Therefore, wheat noodles are more commonly produced and consumed in northern China. That’s why Er Ye said people from the north loved eating noodles.

(4) Traditionally, butter tea is made from tea leaves, yak butter, water, and salt. Wiki link here.


Translated by: Tiffany X
Edited by: merebear226

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