“The house may be small and shabby, but couldn’t you at least clean it up a bit?” Li Yi said to Nie Bufan as he threw the blankets to Tu Beng.
After a few days of resting, Li Yi’s body was almost completely recovered. Though it was strange, he hadn’t drunk any herbal medicine but his inner wounds evidently showed signs of recovery……
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“You sleep at my place, eat my food, and yet you complain?” Nie Bufan casted him a sideway look before handing over a basket of lentils, “since you have this much leisure time, why don’t you help with picking the vegetables.”
Li Yi looked at the things in the basket and asked: “How to do it?”
“This way and that way.” Nie Bufan demonstrated for him, not commenting on his ignorance.
Li Yi sat properly in place, picking at the lentils without expression. His movements were elegant, as if embroidering flowers onto silk rather than picking lentils.
Nie Bufan glanced at him once before suddenly sitting in front of him: “How long do you plan to stay here?”
“Why?” Li Yi did not even look up, “does brother Nie want to chase away guests?”
“That’s not it, besides your addition to this village won’t make much difference. It’s just, can a young master like you get used to living here?”
Li Yi said calmly: “So long as brother Nie have no complaints. I have yet to repay you for saving my life so I have decided to stay here for now and see if I can support the village even just a little?”
Speaking as if he was truly grateful. Nie Bufan looked at him suspiciously before pulling out several green onions that still have soil on it: “Peel this as well.”
Li Yi paused in his lentil picking and accepted the new command without any complaints.
Seeing that he was working hard at the chores, Nie Bufan was satisfied. He walked to the doorway and hollered: “Chicken Servant, after you soak the blankets go clean up the room I’ve been sleeping in the past few days.”
Tu Beng responded affirmatively not too far away.
Nie Bufan turned back around and said to Li Yi: “Since you will be staying here for now then I’ll have a new house prepared for you. For chores done in the village you’ll get food and lodging but no wages.”
Li Yi’s fingers trembled for a second, so he was now a hired worker……
Just as Nie Bufan was about to go to the kitchen to prepare lunch, Zhang Junshi’s voice came from outside the front yard.
Turning around, he saw a smiling Gongzi dressed in a dark brocade robe that looked very resistant to dirt. Following him was the familiar two workers.
“You’re here, welcome.” Nie Bufan smiled in greeting.
Zhang Junshi signaled the workers behind him and worker 1 immediately presented the visiting gift——two grass carps. Originally he had wanted to buy something more valuable but he couldn’t find anything suitable. And thinking of Nie Bufan’s unique mannerisms, he eventually decided to gift something practical.
“Thank you, I have once again caused you to spend money. Why don’t you stay for lunch.” Nie Bufan accepted the grass carps and invited warmly.
Zhang Junshi nodded reservedly in acceptance. He then had the two workers go join Tu Beng while he himself carefully followed Nie Bufan inside.
Having had previous experience, he didn’t dare let down his guard. Any corner in this place could be hiding unseen ‘danger’.
After entering the house he immediately caught sight of the unfamiliar man sitting at the table. Handsome in appearance, mannerism elegant and proper but eyes sharp like an open blade. Ignoring his ragged clothes, he was evidently a Gongzi of extraordinary aristocratic origin.
“Who might this be?” Zhang Junshi asked without giving away any of his thoughts.
“Oh, let me introduce you both.” Nie Bufan said: “This is Zhang Third.”
Zhang Junshi: “……”
“This is Li Fourth.”
Li Yi: “……”
“Go ahead and have a chat while I go make lunch.” Saying so he had already walked out the room.
Inside, there was only silence for a while before Zhang Junshi cupped his hands in greeting: “I am Zhang Junshi.”
“Li Yi.” A cupped hand greeting in return.
They exchanged a look before silently sitting at the table. If one were to look closely one would discover that the both of them were only sitting gingerly, barely putting any weight on the stools as the stools were not completely whole……
“Brother Li is brother Nie’s…..?”
“We are employer and worker. I am in village head Nie’s care for now, and help with some chores at the village.”
Zhang Junshi looked at Li Yi as he picked at the lentils, asking hesitantly: “A person like brother Li, how come?”
“My family have suffered a reversal of fortunes, I can only try to find a living here.”
Whatever these two discussed, Nie Bufan was completely unaware, having been busy at the kitchen for half a day before finally finishing three dishes and one soup.
He was normally as lazy as a hibernating bear, only in cooking could he be complimented on.
When he served up the dishes, Zhang Junshi and Li Yi were like two statues sitting on either end of the table. The atmosphere was a bit stuffy, only warming up when Nie Bufan called them both to help themselves to the meal.
Looking at the dishes on the table, fried chicken, stewed fish, haricot, and green vegetable soup, Zhang Junshi was quite surprised. It was hard to imagine that Nie Bufan could make such normal food, the cutlery was also very clean as well. It was better than he had imagined. And he had originally prepared himself on the prospect of having to drink medicine once he got home.
Li Yi had on a much more normal countenance, picking up a piece of fish meat and taking a bite. His movements suddenly paused however, before he continued to chew silently.
Zhang Junshi also began to eat, first taking a bite of chicken: “The chickens brother Nie raise are indeed delicious. My restaurant has been busier than before, and it’s all thanks to brother Nie.”
“No, no.” Nie Bufan smiled as he ate, “It’s me who should thank Zhang Third Gongzi for taking care of my business.”
“Hehe.” Zhang Junshi chuckled, taking a subtle look at Li Yi, before putting a piece of fish meat in his mouth.
“……” Zhang Junshi suddenly had on a hesitant expression. Looking at the other two and their normal countenance, he silently took another bite of fish meat.
He resisted only briefly before asking: “Brother Nie, I don’t know if it’s my taste buds the problem but why does the fish meat taste like chicken?”
“Hehehehe.” Nie Bufan responded without any sense of guilt, “it’s not strange, I used chicken broth to make the fish.”
“So that’s it.” Zhang Junshi said with an expression of realization. But privately he wondered, using chicken broth to stew the fish could actually completely get rid of the taste of fish? But the taste overall wasn’t too bad……
Li Yi did not even bat an eye. During the past few days he had not eaten any other meat but chicken. For once there was fish cooked but the result was still chicken taste. Nie Bufan must likely have a deep love for chicken it seemed.
“That’s rigjt, brother Nie.” Zhang Junshi said, “tomorrow is the Mid-Autumn Festival, in the evening the city will be extremely lively. I would like to invite brother Nie to drink wine and view the moon, don’t know whether you will do me the honor of showing up?”
Nie Bufan thought about it, and nodded: “Alright, it should be fun.” He turned and said to Li Yi: “Li Fourth, do you want to go too?”
Li Yi’s expression was reserved, replying after a brief pause: “I won’t be going.”
Nie Bufan guessed he was worried about being found by the peacock man so he didn’t try to convince the other.
Zhang Junshi was privately delighted: “It’s a pity brother Li will not be going. Then, brother Nie we will meet at my restuarant at you shi (TN: 5-7pm in the system of two-hour subdivisions used in former times). After having dinner we can go see the night market.”
“En, fine, see you then.”
After lunch, Zhang Junshi stayed briefly for tea before preparing to leave.
Nie Bufan stopped him and said: “Proper behavior is based on reciprocity, today I accepted your fish so I must express my thanks.”
Zhang Junshi was about to say no need, but who knew Nie Bufan had already ran off. Soon he came back with something in hand. Placing it on the table, it was a basket of eggs.
Zhang Junshi’s mouth twitched. Nie Bufan seem to really love sending people eggs. This time though, the eggs in the basket seemed to have been carefully selected, the size about the same, looking very much like normal eggs.
At that moment, the workers had finished eating as well as finished packing up the chickens into their cages.
Zhang Junshi left with the two workers, and before leaving reminded Nie Bufan of tomorrow’s appointment.
“Your chickens are all sold to him?” Li Yi, seeing that they had left, asked Nie Bufan.
“Yup.” Nie Bufan stretched his back, and began to exercise his muscles and bones.
“Zhang Junshi is Li City’s Zhang family Gongzi. Hard to imagine he would show up in this small place.”
“I think he said he was here to check up on their branch shop.”
Nie Bufan replied while he stretched.
Li Yi’s eyes flickered with a look of disagreement but he didn’t say anymore.
Nie Bufan bent over and looked at Li Yi through his legs, and asked: “You truly don’t plan on going out tomorrow?”
“That peacock man likely won’t go out either, you don’t need to hide.”
“Peacock man?” Li Yi asked confused.
Nie Bufan stood upright and replied: “That day it was your little brother, right? Looking at the way he dressed and his arrogant countenance, doesn’t it remind you of a peacock?”
Li Yi fell silent.
Nie Bufan said: “As brothers, why is the difference so big? That day you dressed all in black, just like a crow, no wonder I thought you to be an assassin. Speaking of, you and your brother’s sense of style both cannot be complimented.”
Your Excellency seem to not have the qualifications to assess another’s sense of style!
Li Yi gave him a disdainful look. Recalling the events of that day his expression became very bad.
Alright! Exercise finished! Nie Bufan let out a big breath, not bothering with Li Yi’s inner conflict, and ran out the front yard.
Not awhile later, his head popped back and instructed: “Clean up the room will you, since you’re free and all.”
Nie Bufan had planned to prepare specially for today’s Mid-Autumn Festival but after looking himself over and discovering there wasn’t anything to prepare, he simply went with his usual dress. In addition to two bodyguard chickens and a cloth sack he was ready as could be.
Li Yi watched from the side, privately pitying Zhang Gongzi. He could just imagine the other all dressed up, but with someone like Nie Bufan standing at his side, who knew what the picture would be like in the end……
Nie Bufan brushed one last time at his mid length hair before leaving with his two bodyguard chickens.
After entering the city, he could see crowds everywhere. Nie Bufan as usual received his 10 out of 10 head turns as he leisurely made his way to Zhang Junshi’s restaurant.
After catching sight of him, the two workers left to report his arrival with strange expressions on their faces.
Soon after, Zhang Junshi arrived in an evidently good mood, dressed in a clean and neat Confucius robe with long sleeves and belted in at the waist, hair tied up in a knot, the perfect appearance of an elegant Gongzi.
But, catching sight of Nie Bufan, his handsome smile was soon replaced with surprise, stiffness, vexation and other emotions.
Slapping his forehead, he thought to himself, how could he have forgotten Nie Bufan’s unique sense of style? He didn’t mind the other’s humble conditions, even if he was dressed plainly it wouldn’t stop them from being friends.
But Nie Bufan’s dress completely exceeded the boundaries of normality. Just look at the untied hair blowing freely in the wind, the different length sleeves, the ripped hems, the twisted and wrinkled collar……and his hand holding the leash to two very incongruous roosters. It was simply too dire to use words to describe.
But against reason, Nie Bufan was completely at ease, not a least bit concerned with his appearance, as if he was a knight-errant, free and uninhibited.
How could this world have such a person?
Zhang Junshi privately sighed in amazement, stepping forward to lead him inside. “Brother Nie, tonight is not only lively, there will also be many unmarried women out to see the sights. How can your dress attract their hearts?”
Nie Bufan looked at himself and nodded: “That’s true.”
He had yet to see the beauties of ancient times. But looking shabby in front of women was not his style.
Zhang Junshi privately wiped a tear away, so he did know!
“That being the case, why not let me help you choose a few outfits. Today’s a holiday after all, we must dress cheerfully.”
“That’s fine.” Nie Bufan replied as he observed his surroundings.
Zhang Junshi had on a delighted expression, quickly sifting through the clothes.
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“Are you sure this outfit is suitable for me?” Nie Bufan looked at the clothes in Zhang Junshi’s hand.
“It is definitely suitable, go change quickly.”
“Fine.” The texture was quite smooth, just don’t know what kind of result it would have……
AN: Chicken Nest Village secret #4: dead animals that are brought into the village will not change in appearance but once it is cooked the taste will be that of chicken meat, only the texture differing slightly depending on the type of animal.
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