Convention - Ch. 4 Holy City Of The Dead
“Each sunset is approaching its last, but people are still rising and sleeping with the sun and moon.”
The routine at the hospital is very boring, that even if I wanted to stay up late, there was nothing to do because the power was off and the lights were out. In the long run, it also made me develop the habit of waking up early naturally.
When I woke up, it was already dawn, and from the window shone with the bleak and dull light characteristic of daytime. Strange room, strange bed, strange clock on the wall, everything here was strange.
I sat up, the heavy quilt was very uncomfortable to sleep with, and the large red flower embroidery over the top also makes me inexplicably feel a little embarrassed.
This is probably the first time I can remember being woken up by something other than an alarm clock or a radio callus.
The sound that woke me up was coming from the covers, it seems to be snoring. I lowered my head and found a ‘flower’ on the quilt that was not quite naturally distorted, as if it was hiding something.
I curiously stretched out my hand and felt something rough, almost at the same time, a sharp pain came from my fingertips, I instantly retracted my hand, in contrast, I felt something jumping off my quilt like a spring.
Covering my dripping finger, I panicked and turn toward the sound — it turned out to be the chameleon. It plopped down steadily onto a chair. I remember it was called Newton, it didn’t go with Mo Xiao yesterday?
The pain coming from the wound was unbearable. After living calmly in the hospital for so long, I vaguely felt as if I hadn’t been injured for a long time. When I think about it this way, it’s a miracle that I only got that little scratch the night before in that chaotic situation.
“You’re not poisonous, are you?”
I stared at the green lizard and inexplicably asked a question. The words had not yet to drop, I already felt a little silly for asking an animal a question …… am I playing the lute to a cow? But Newton seemed to understand my words, cocked his head and looked at me. Then blinked at me, and nodded his head.
(TLN: “playing the lute to a cow” describe someone who is telling something complicated to the fool, or sometimes this idiom is used to describe a person who is trying to tell something to the wrong audience.)
“Huh? Are you saying you’re poisonous?”
It nodded again.
“You understand my words?”
It was still nodding …… it can’t be that it only nods, can it? Animals react to sounds, yet this reaction doesn’t make much sense …… it must be like this.
To verify my thoughts, I spoke without thinking. It stared at me for a moment with those two huge eyes, neither shook its head nor nodded, but popped its long tongue out of its mouth and knocked me on the forehead. The sudden blow made me lose my balance and fell off the bed at once. The wound on the finger that had been slightly collected was shaken that the blood continues.
“Ah, it hurts ……”
This little bastard, it’s seemingly gentle, so I did not expect its tongue’s strength to be so heavy, plus the sticky sensation on my forehead. From the fact that it is Mo Xiao’s pet, for it to understand human language does not seem to be a surprising thing.
Why didn’t I think of this earlier? It’s been a long time since I’ve had such a bad morning, and I hope it doesn’t get any worse next ……
I stopped myself from thinking that I was a veritable crow’s nest and couldn’t just pop up with such strange thoughts.
I barely got up from the ground, and the wound on my hand is still bleeding uncontrollably. If this is at the hospital, I now just need to change clothes, go out and turn left to get a beautiful nurse to gently bandage me. But here …… I don’t even know if there is an infirmary here, let alone bandages.
I glared at the green beast, which was still lying on the stool with that somewhat bitchy expression looking at me, and from this angle, it also looked a bit like a smile, which was very exasperating. I raised my hand wanting to give the following reptile a little punishment, but as I raise my hands, I suddenly remembered that this four-legged guy has a great background …… like the two-legged physicist has his dear college mentor Barrow. This lizard also has its master.
I sighed helplessly and put my raised hand down.
Speaking of which, how is Mo Xiao doing now? Last night, when I was sent here by that big guy, Mo Xiao also stayed in that room with that ‘God’, I wonder how she is now ……
I don’t know when I even began to care about Mo Xiao, I have only been together with her for only three days. Although I follow her without too much thought, I think my relationship with her is probably not considered a friend …… I don’t even trust her very much, but somehow, I just kind of miss her. Is this that so-called ‘suspension bridge effect’?
(TLN: It does not mean love here, but increased friendship while they traveled)
However, since I can live in a room with a bed and a ceiling painting, Mo Xiao being the girl’s sister, her treatment should not be too bad, right? I thought to myself.
“Knock, knock, knock.”
Just then, there was a gentle knock at the door, politely knock only three times.
I looked down at my attire. Because I had slept in the bed in casual clothes now my clothes were crumpled all over, which really could not be called elegant, not quite suitable for responding to such a courteous visitor. But there was nothing I could do, I couldn’t just leave the door closed, could I? So I simply patted my entire body and walked up and opened the door.
It was empty outside, I stood inside the door and looked out for a while, but still did not find anyone there. Could I be hearing things? I shook my head and closed the door behind me. I remember the lecture in the hospital mentioned that in addition to some mental disorders and brain lesions, too much stress can also induce hallucinations.
I’ve had as many scares during these times compared to the sum of the first half of my life, so it’s inevitable. Maybe I should sleep a little more. But before that, I got to take care of the wound. Speaking of which …… Newton seems to say it is poisonous itself.
”Knock, knock, knock.”
Behind me, there was another knock on the door, this one slightly heavier than the previous three. This time I could be sure it wasn’t a hallucination. So I turned around and opened the door again.
There was still nothing outside. Is this some kind of prank? I closed the door once again with some displeasure. But then the knocking sounded again, this time much heavier than the last, and no longer the gentleman’s knocking method, but purely knocking frantically, perhaps more appropriate to say it more like pounding a little.
I would like to ignore this, but this noisy pounding sound is really annoying, so I had to open the door again in a very bad mood.
As expected, this time there is still no one outside, I kind of want to yell at the pranksters outside, but before I open my mouth, there is pain at my feet.
I looked down and saw a little short man standing on my foot. He was wearing a sweatshirt and a hood. From this angle, I couldn’t see his face hidden under the hood but somehow could see…or feel his big round eyes.
I couldn’t help but blurt out. This figure, by any measure, was indeed a child; he wasn’t even knee-high to me.
Hearing my words, he pointed at himself unhappily and stood on his tiptoes again, making himself taller and does a height comparing gesture that looked a bit like a mime …… although I didn’t really understand mime, he probably meant ……
“You mean, you’re not a kid, I’m the kid? My whole family is kids?”
The words that came out of my mouth are a little awkward, but it seems to be the right thing here. The dwarf nodded at me and then made a series of random hand gestures, pointing from here to there, from this side to that side, touching his stomach and touching his mouth, imitating someone giving orders.
“Uh …… you were sent to receive me? Now you’re taking me to lunch?” I tried to ask. “Don’t think about doing anything suspicious, I’m super good at fighting?”
The little guy froze and gave me a thumbs-up, jumping around excitedly in front of me as if I had just done something amazing. Then there was a flurry of hand gestures.
“No, I’m not that good.”
Listen, or rather, seeing his overflowing words, I was slightly embarrassed and rubbed the back of my head. Am I the first person to understand these mimes with such accuracy? Although I think this body language is still very simple.
“By the way, you ……”
Watching him praise me in sign language one after another, I suddenly wanted to ask him why he didn’t speak, but fortunately didn’t say it, there is always a reason for his reluctance to speak. Maybe it’s the inability to speak, congenital deafness, or something, and it’s not good behavior to deliberately ask people such questions.
“What’s your name?”
So I turned the tables and changed the question, then the next second I realized that this was simply stupid. How can you say your name when the other person can’t even talk? This is still a poke at someone’s sore spot.
Unfortunately, the words that were spoken were spilled, and the dwarf froze for a moment when he heard that along with his whole body. I may have hurt him.
But to my surprise, he took out a small piece of paper from his pocket and respectfully handed it to me with both hands. It was like a seasoned office worker, with a perfect forty-five-degree bow attached. This made me also involuntarily follow a bow.
I receive the piece of paper, which feels a bit like a piece of cardboard in my hand. I pick it up and take a look, it is a piece of cardboard. Probably …… there is a possibility, perhaps, this should be a business card, written in colored pencil with crooked mysterious language and children’s scribbles, but fortunately, the word ‘Lei Ke’ is still legible, although part of it was covered up somewhat by the colorful surroundings.
“Lei Ke…is that your name?”
“That’s not a badly made business card.”
Just as I was about to put the card in my pocket, Ryker patted my hand, gesturing for me to give it back to him, and then extended his leather-gloved finger to make a ‘one’, as if to say that there were only one of these things. After receiving the card, he nodded to himself with the card and shook his head. It probably means that he didn’t make this card.
“So, is it from a friend?”
He didn’t deny it but then gestured for me to follow him and take me to the cafeteria. I happened to be feeling a little hungry too, but before I left, I remembered that there was still a chameleon in my room.
I thought I should take Newton with me, even though he had bitten me, but if I didn’t take care of him, I had a strong feeling that I would be given a good beating by Mo Xiao.
So I turned back and tried to get him back, only to find that I lost track of that little thing and it disappeared from this room. Probably it was hiding in the room, or maybe it ran out. But whichever it was, I was too lazy to bother with it now.
So I took one last look at the room that I had only lived in for one night and closed the door.
It’s probably snowing outside, I thought.
When Mo Xiao and I arrived, there was a huge expanse of lifeless frozen ground outside, and the terrible temperature and scenery did not contradict the wind and blizzard. But it was a bit surprising that the cold penetrated through such thick walls into the corridor. I gently brushed the walls of this narrow corridor, and the temperature made me feel like I had just taken something out of the refrigerator.
[Don’t lick the walls.] Lei Ke told me with his hand gesture, [It will freeze.]
“I wouldn’t lick it even if you didn’t say so,” I replied.
The walls here remind me of those very old buildings, not painted, not paneled, and not wallpaper. This primitive architecture, built up with a large chunk of stone bricks, has a special charm that calms the confused mind. Only the people of the classical period would have used this method of building houses. Both the Parthenon and the Domus Cathedral are great buildings. Some people would worship the Parthenon as the perfect building, but no one would say that the Domus Cathedral is perfect, so perhaps the problem lies in the bricks.
To illuminate the ceiling here, all the lighting here is hanging on the wall.
I looked up and saw that the ceiling was painted with colorful oil paintings, reminiscent of the zenith paintings in the Sistine Chapel, except that the colors used in those zenith paintings were on the bright side, while here they were much colder and darker.
Honestly, I don’t think it’s a good idea to paint on the ceiling, because it makes both the people who paint and the people who look tired. I heard that Michelangelo complained countless times to his friends about how tiring it was to paint on a ladder when he painted the world-famous masterpiece for the Pope. And to stuff a painting like that into a small plane like the ceiling, is very uncomfortable to look at, right? After all, people will automatically ignore the details when they appreciate something, and too much detail will make people feel unhappy. Michelangelo is said to have deliberately cut off parts of the painting for the overall effect, so you can imagine how tired people are when they look at the Sistine zenith in the beginning.
Like the Sistine Chapel, the zenith paintings here seem to depict a story. But the images here improve on the mistakes Sistine Chapel made. It looks much more comfortable, the landscape is clear, and there are not too many people in each painting. A few of them seem to depict the story of the small God, who stands above the crowd gesturing the three fingers, living like a Christ Jesus …… maybe it is painted according to Jesus.
There seems to be a painting of the scene of her birth, three guys in suits groveling in front of another woman holding her and bowing down, the prototype of this painting is probably the three doctors of the East to see the birth of Jesus, but I do not know why ‘Mary’s’ face was painted with black. Judging from the thickness of the paint, this black scar was added later …… why was so?
I was still wondering about the blackened ‘Madonna’ when the story came to an abrupt end, and it seems that the painting just now is the starting point of the story. Lei Ke led me to stop in front of a very old door, patchy, and jagged like a product from the Middle Ages.
Lei Ke on his tiptoes, trying to reach the door handle that is higher than him, but after so long he only got so close. At that moment, the door was violently pushed open from the inside.
Lei Ke was slammed onto the wall like a fly by the door. From inside the steamy room, out came to a woman who was doesn’t look very well. Her slim body wrapped in a dusty old coat, the lens on her makes it difficult to see her demeanor, her face messily wrapped in stained bandages, the little exposed skin showed an unhealthy white, more so sickly.
She stared straight at me for a while, and then suddenly snapped over to me, her scattered orange strands of hair almost fell on the tip of my nose. My face had become a little hot all of a sudden.
“It’s a face that hasn’t been seen before.”
I was about to open my mouth when I was interrupted. She said while stroking my face with slightly rough fingertips, warm breath lightly exhaled on my neck, making me a little tickled; but her voice was as hoarse as the whimper of a dead person about to leave the world, causing a slight coolness in my heart.
“You …… are unusual.”
After saying these confusing words, she withdrew her hand and took a step forward, knocking me to the other side of the corridor and walking forward as if no one was there.
I watched the strange woman’s back as she left and scratched my head. I was about to complain about something when I saw her right foot strained…
She exclaimed, her body lost its balance, and her whole body lurched to the side. Fortunately, she was quick and used her hands to hold on to the wall, but her overly broad coat fell completely off because of the imbalance of her body, revealing some of her shoulders that were not wrapped in bandages, and her bloodless skin was very conspicuous.
“What are you looking at? Little pervert.”
She glared at me and once again covered her body with the soiled coat. Again, she seemed to remember something and said to me with a smile.
“By the way, my name is Belita Covare. Be sure to remember it well.”
Although she smiled, her voice did not have a trace of tenderness. After saying these words, she left once again.
Just when I didn’t know what to do, Lei Ke suddenly burst out from behind the door. He was hysterical and expressed his displeasure physically, not the least of which was some foul language.
I was tempted to ask him who that Belita was, but Lei Ke just rushed into the door and did not seem to hear my words. I had to stop there and hurriedly followed him into the door.
As I walk through the door, warm air flows toward me, along with some noisy chatters. I’ve never been to a so-called food market, and I don’t know what the word ‘bustling’ really means, but I think it’s similar to the scene in front of me. I don’t know why, but in this environment, I became very eager to eat.
Lei Ke led me to the back of a short line of a few people. The few people in front of me and Lei Ke look a bit odd, all wearing inexplicable helmets or gas masks, the whole body is wrapped with old bandages, although they dress very thick and tight to hide these bandages, most of them can still be seen at a glance.
At the front of the line was a young woman in charge of the food, wearing a white cafeteria uniform and a triangular headband with short reddish-brown hair scattered underneath, also wrapped in the same bandages as the people in line, covering one of her eyes, as if she was injured, but this did not hide her pretty face. Perhaps because I hadn’t seen many women, I thought she was quite cute compared to Mo Xiao.
Soon it was my turn to get food. In the past, I had always faced the stinky face of the grumpy fat guy in the hospital, and now I was actually a bit at a loss when faced with such a bright smile.
“Hey, a new face.”
What’s more unexpected is that she took the initiative to speak to me. I was carrying a somewhat greasy dinner plate and all of a sudden I was blushing, not knowing what to do or say, and the atmosphere was immediately plunged into awkwardness.
“Uh …… want to order something?”
Seeing that I did not speak for a long time, she smiled a little and asked so.
Hearing her words, I hurriedly shifted my eyes from her face to the grid containing dishes below.
But this does not make me feel much comfort, because out of the dishes here, I do not recognize a single one. These colorful messes all look poisonous …… and some stir-fried suspicious creatures …… wait …… what is that? Gecko stew? Fortunately, I did not bring Newton, although it and the gecko should not be the same species, they are both under the lizard’s category …… he should not feel a sense of crisis, right?
Finally, my eyes fell on top of a clump of the white stuff, this looked like potato or mashed chickpeas, so I pointed to the white bean puree.
“Ah, are you asking for ‘aromatic mud’? Okay.”
She said as she scooped a big chunk into my bowl with a spoon and poured a bit more of the gecko stew over it.
“Do you want anything else?”
“No …… that’s it.”
I said and hurriedly retrieved my plate, although I felt that just one dish did not seem quite enough, I was too embarrassed to stay here. Just when I wanted to leave, Lei Ke pulled my pant leg from behind. I looked back, only to see him with his head under the plate, trying to put the plate on the table, but it is still too short. Even if he jumps for half a day he may not appear in the line of sight of the girl who’s serving dishes.
This comical move feels a little funny, so I put down the plate and picked him up.
“Hey, isn’t this little Lei Ke? You came to eat in the cafeteria on a rare occasion, huh?”
Lei Ke danced around in the crook of my arm, pointing his eyes and waving his fist, looking aggressive.
“I come to the cafeteria every day, but you, act like a blind person, can’t see me all the time!”
I tried to translate Lei Ke’’s words.
“Do you know how sad it is to come out of the cafeteria on a hungry stomach! Hmm!”
I substituted my emotions and empathized with what Ryker was trying to say, then froze for a moment and immediately added.
“Ah, that’s not what I said, it’s what this guy meant.”
“Haha …… so that’s what you meant when you danced around with your hands every time I gave you a meal before …… sorry la, I’ll give you more of what you like to eat, please forgive me.”
She said so, scooped two big spoonfuls of ‘aromatic puree’ on Lei Ke’s plate, poured another spoonful full of soup, and with an apologetic face, added some other dishes to Lake. Only then did Lake nod in satisfaction and gestured for me to put him down. Then bounced away with his full plate on top.
“Phew, that guy is really like a little kid.”
I couldn’t help but say as I watched Lei Ke bounce off to find a spot.
“That’s not the way to say it.” The girl who was serving dishes smiled at me. “He’s one of the patriarchs of the ‘Eternal Undead’.”
“A patriarch? ……”
I murmured, looking at that short stature of his, it was hard to associate him with the word ‘patriarch’ no matter what. Just like I couldn’t associate Mo Xiao’s sister’s well-behaved character with the word ‘God’ no matter what.
“Did you just join us today?”
She seemed to see that I was dazed, so she tapped me on the shoulder with the handle of her spoon. I instantly reacted again from the seemingly easygoing atmosphere just now, realized that I was talking to such a cute girl, and became red in the face again. Although it wasn’t so much that I couldn’t say anything as I did just now.
“Sort … sort of.” I grinned. “I did just come today.” Though not by choice.
“No wonder, I was thinking how come I haven’t seen you before, my name is Ito Miyu, just call me Miyu. And you?”
“Hua…Huang Yuan.” I stammered. “Um, right, how do you know I’m new? Don’t most of the people here cover their faces?”
I said, pointing to a man passing by whose face was wrapped tightly in bandages as if he had eighth-degree burns.
“That’s a strange question, you’re not wearing a mask.”
“That, that’s right ……”
I scratched my head, just then, behind me came a few dull coughs, I glanced back with my afterglow and found that the line behind me had somehow grown longer. It seems that the time spent just now chatting with Miyu-san has affected her work.
“Ah, sorry, I seem to have interfered with your work, let’s talk again sometime.”
Before the fierce-looking gas mask person behind me got mad, I picked up the dinner plate that was placed on the counter and ran away. Subconsciously, I looked back, and Miyu waved at me. Ah, what a friendly girl, compared to someone who always has a stinky face, it’s a world of difference, maybe that’s the difference in upbringing.
It didn’t take me much effort to find where Lei Ke was sitting. Although there were many people in the cafeteria, it was strange that very few people were seated in the cafeteria. So in between the sparse empty seats, I easily spotted Ryker’s head buried in his plate, so I took a seat across from him. When he saw me sitting down, he stopped eating like a gourmand beast and looked over at me.
[Why are you so slow?] He asked me with a gesture.
“It’s not that slow, I guess.” I shrugged my shoulders. “Speaking of which, why are there so few people eating here?”
I looked around, and sure enough, it was a little too empty all around.
“There are so many people getting dinner.”
[They all went back to their rooms to eat.] Ryker gestures and a person happened to carry the lunch box out of the cafeteria.
“Back to their room …… why do they want to go back to the room, it is not convenient to eat in the cafeteria?”
[Because they don’t want to take off their mask.]
[Because it’s ugly.]
“Ugly ……” sounds like a joke at first, but it’s very convincing. Good-looking people don’t have to wear masks every day, do they? As I was struggling with this answer, Lei Ke suddenly stood up in his chair and came up to me, gesturing for me to look at him.
I saw him pick up a bean from his messy plate, put it in the palm of his hand, and then turned it over and over in front of me to show it off as if to tell me that there was not a single thing wrong with it. Then turned the palm of his hand over and over and spread it out to me. And the bean had disappeared without a trace, just his greasy glove remained.
“Is this magic?” I applauded gently, out of courtesy. It wasn’t a very exciting trick, and I knew the mystery as soon as I saw it. When I was in the hospital, the hospital people seemed to have a grudge against magic, often doing ‘anti-superstition science’ in class, and magic was their key target. Large as the big change of the living, small to using a hat to hide the pigeon, each technique was introduced detailedly. Even I can do these tricks if I have the props.
Lei Ke saw that I did not seem particularly shocked and seemed to be a little dissatisfied, so he held out a finger, waved it at me, and then held up his plate and dumped the few leftovers left in it on the floor, wasting the food like a small child. He picked up the round plate, waved it in front of me again, and then turned the plate, which was about the size of his head, out of existence before my eyes.
For a moment, I wondered if I had just blinked, a plate that big disappeared in one swoop, not giving anyone time to react. I stared at Lei Ke a little dumbfounded, and he spread his two small arms as if to provoke me.
“How did you do that?”
I clapped my hands once again, this time from the bottom of my heart. Ryker tilted his head, beaming with joy, and once again demonstrated his amazing magic in front of me, and one after another, he lost his spoon, chopsticks, fork, and an innocent fly in front of me. Finally, he turned his attention to my plate. Fortunately, I moved a little faster than him and removed the plate before he could dump my untouched lunch on the floor.
“No, this won’t do.”
Hearing my words, Ryker glared at me for a moment, as if a little angry, but obediently sat back down in his seat.
Now, I can finally eat some food, I just had a little bit of bread on the plane yesterday, dinner is more so forgotten because of the unexpected situation. This was a long-overdue warm meal.
I picked up a spoon and dug into that ‘aromatic mash’, this white paste is wonderful, the texture was like beef, tasted like chicken, very chewy, slightly sweet, but without the fishy taste of meat. I thought it was some kind of bean paste at first, but this tasted like meat.
It was the first time I’d ever eaten anything like this, and it tasted pretty good. But I’m not very used to eating it, probably because I’m eating in an unfamiliar environment and …… I’m a little uncomfortable with the noisy atmosphere here.
What is Mo Xiao eating now? I suddenly wondered. Really, why do I always worry about that poker-face?
I looked around for a while, searching for those who were still sitting in the cafeteria eating. Maybe Mo Xiao is here too, I thought. But after looking around, I didn’t see that familiar ponytail and white coat at all. After all, she is the sister of a ‘God’, so she doesn’t eat with mortals in the cafeteria? I put down my spoon with this thought and did not want to continue eating, I do not know if I was full or just not in the mood.
I remember Lei Ke said that he was ordered to take me to the cafeteria for lunch, from another point of view, he may be the so-called ‘watcher’. I think I should still be under ‘house arrest’, which is clear from the fact that they separated me from Mo Xiao. But I knew nothing about them, Mo Xiao brought me in headlong and didn’t tell me anything …… Although the people here seem to be friendly, I was honestly more or less panicking.
The cafeteria is gradually becoming less and less crowded. After Lei Ke helped me finish what I couldn’t eat, the entire cafeteria was finally left with just the two of us.
“What should I do next?” I asked. “Should I go back to my room?”
Lei Ke heard my question, rubbed his chin with his hand, and thought for a while, then suddenly jumped out of his chair. Then he ran towards the outside of the cafeteria, waving at me as he did so. This probably means that I should follow him. I put down my cutlery, stood up and stretched, and followed him unhurriedly.
(TLN: Pretty happy with my finals result, so here’s another chap.)