Chapter 96.1 – Thousand Asteraceae
In the Imperial Fu Palace there was a square table right in the middle.
The table was similar to the twenty-first century mahjong table. The only difference was that there was no layer of velvet mat on the table, so when the one hundred and thirty-six mahjong tiles were poured out, the sound was loud and many people could hear it.
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There was one person sitting on each of the four sides of the table.
Ai Zi Ran sat opposite the lao wang ye. To the left of the lao wang yei was Fu Wu Tian, and to the right was Head Steward Fu. Qiu Lan held on to the spirited little bun and stood with Chun Lan to one side watching the proceedings.
This time, the bet was thirteen years.
Since the lao wang ye moved on from playing Fight the Landlord and became addicted to playing mahjong, this was the first time he made such a huge bet.
All the servants of the palace thought that the lao wang ye must have gone stupid from losing so much. If he lost again, then his grounding time would be doubled. However, in the eyes of An Zi Ran and the other two, the lao wang ye was actually very smart.
The lao wang ye was not young anymore. To him, there was no difference between thirteen and twenty-six years. Since it was like this, then why not just go big in this gamble. If he won, then he would no longer be grounded, and if he lost, it wouldn’t make much difference.
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Lao wang ye too in a deep breath and his expression morphed into the serious look of one about to fight at close quarters on a battlefield. He scooped up the dice on the table and said to the other three, “Old rules. Whoever has the highest number is the banker*.”
[*T/N: 做庄 zuo zhuang: I think this means to be the banker (in a gambling game). I don’t know all the rules of mahjong, so I don’t even know if there’s a banker or not. Alternatively, it could mean who goes first…?]
The lao wang ye was becoming more and more of a gambling addict. This sentence was no different from what a seasoned gambler would say.
An Zi Ran did not say a word. It made no difference to him who was the banker.
Head Steward Fu said, “It doesn’t matter to me.”
Fu Wu Tian looked at the deadly serious lao wang ye and said, “If grandfather likes to be the banker, then let grandfather go first (and be the banker).”
The lao wang ye accepted this without hesitation. He did indeed like being the banker.
In order to roll a higher number, he deliberately stayed in his room for a long time to practice, and the results were… fruitless…
The lao wang ye rolled the two dices into the middle of the four stacks of mahjong tiles, and the numbers that came up were a six and a three.
Seeing these numbers, everyone’s expressions suddenly became subtle*.
[*T/N: This is legit what the raws says. “微妙起来” = “became subtle”]
An Zi Ran looked at the thirteen tiles he had and couldn’t help but wrinkle his eyebrows. It was a pretty crappy hand. He glanced at Fu Wu Tian and Head Steward Fu. Their expressions were inscrutable. It was hard to detect their thoughts. But his intuition told him that their hand weren’t that good either.
Was this a coincidence or was it deliberate?
An Zi Ran looked at the lao wang ye out of his peripheral vision, and couldn’t help staring blankly.
When the lao wang ye pretended to be deep, he still gave others a feeling of ridiculousness. No matter how much he tried, everyone could still see his innate character. Simply put, he lacked an imposing grandeur.
Right now, his serious face was pulled taut like usual, but he didn’t give off the same silly feeling as before. Instead, he seemed to exude a cold and harsh aura. He was like a sharpened knife hidden in the dark. He had a steady and imposing manner. Even without speaking, it was enough to deter other people.
This thought flashed through his mind in a quick nanosecond.
Translations by Vanilla Muse.
When An Zi Ran’s eyes fell on the mahjong tiles in front of him, a strange feeling spread through his entire body. He felt that something was not right, but he couldn’t tell what it was.
Compared with the lao wang ye who was brimming with a battle aura, Fu Wu Tian and Head Steward Fu were very calm, a pair of indifferent parties, as if they had good tiles in their hands.
“Wang fei,” Fu Wu Tian looked at him abruptly.
An Zi Ran returned to the present and found that he had accidentally mired too deeply in his thoughts. This was a taboo for gambling. He adjusted his mindset and touched upon his first mahjong tile.
After a few turns, the lao wang ye did not touch a single tile.
He was playing his tiles so messily that one could not fathom what he was doing, but the lao wang ye did not seem anxious at all.
An Zi Ran had three yi wan* tiles in his hand. The remaining yi wan tile was in the middle of the table. Furthermore, it was a tile that the lao wang ye had slapped onto the table. If it weren’t for that, he would’ve thought that the lao wang ye was aiming for shi san yao**.
[*T/N: Name of one of the tiles in mahjong, kind of like a Jack or Queen.]
[** T/N: A type of hand in mahjong, kind of like Full House or Royal Flush.]
After thinking about it, he still decided to hold on to the yi wan tiles, and played a liu wan tile onto the table.
[*T/N: 碰 peng – kind of like shouting “uno” when you play the game Uno. You assimilate the mahjong tile that someone else just played into your own hand and you announce it, because you’re one step closer to winning the game, or something like that.]
The lao wang ye suddenly called out in a strong voice.
An Zi Ran found that Fu Wu Tian and Head Steward Fu’s eyes were concentrated on him. His expression remained very calm. Just as humans make mistakes, so can a horse stumble*. What the heck are you looking at?!
[*T/N: Idiom for “everyone makes mistakes” or “even the best fall down sometimes.”]
As for the matter of the lao wang ye’s confinement, An Zi Ran was the one that cared the least, because he felt that if the lao wang ye really wanted to go out and play, then no matter what, they wouldn’t be able to contain him. Most likely, the lao wang ye was so persistent in these bets was because he found it fun.
Lao wang ye slapped out a tile and immediately squinted his eyes at his grandson, who had not made a move. Such a rare occurrence of being able to declare ‘peng,’ but he did not show a look of joy. His expression was still very serious, and his eyes even revealed a hint of sorrow.
Fu Wu Tian ran a finger along his tiles. Without looking, he took a tile and flung it onto the middle of the table. He was even more practiced than a veteran gambler.
An Zi Ran followed and threw out a tile. He wasn’t trying particularly hard to assemble a winning hand. He just had to play an opposing tile to avoid someone getting one up on him.