Chapter 1: Are You Retarded?
Warbling birds, a mountain creek, moss, dried leaves, high walls, a metal net, a grassy meadow——-this wasn’t a luxuriant campus, this was Mt. Hen Prison.
(TL Note: The ‘hen’ here means hate/regret.)
In a tall building where one could keep watch over the prison square where prisoners were let out for exercise, Tang Zhong was sitting in front of a desk writing.
“The immense sea allows fish to leap at liberty; the vast sky lets birds fly freely.”
His strokes were elegant and outstanding, the ink showing a splendid color. It was a vivid style, as natural and unrestrained as a wind god.
Being able to write words this skillfully at such a young age was indeed something to be proud of.
Thus, Tang Zhong wasn’t ever stingy when it came to praising himself.
“It’s written so well. An unprecedented level of well.”
“If the Sage of Calligraphy was reborn and saw these strokes, he’d probably cry loudly, right?”
“The vast sky lets birds fly freely? Why not the dark sky lets birds fly freely? ——The people from the ancient times were truly rogues.”
The room door was smashed open. A panting, middle-aged prison guard wearing a grey blue prison uniform stood by the entrance and loudly shouted, “Second-in-command——hurry up, Group 7 has the explosion signal!”
“Explosion signal?” Tang Zhong raised his head and asked, “Where’s Head-in-command?”
“He’s not in the on-duty room,” the prison guard anxiously replied.
An explosion signal was given in the event that a vicious fight appeared within the prison cell. If it wasn’t controlled properly, bloodshed and death would occur.
There had once been too great of an ‘explosion signal’ due to the mental pressure of the death penalty, and four inmates’ necks had been twisted and snapped in a single night.
Tang Zhong gracefully knit his brows together and tossed the brush in his hand into the ink box. He then stood up and quickly ran outside. Seeing that the second-in-command was willing to go out and provide urgent assistance, the prison guard’s taut expression finally relaxed.
After passing through a secluded and long hallway and iron door after iron door, they finally stopped before the metal door with ‘Group 7’ hanging in front of it.
Before they had even entered, they could hear loud voices noisily shouting from the inside.
“Second-in-command, I’ll open the door.” The prison guard said.
“Wait.” Tang Zhong stretched his hand out to stop him. “Listen in a bit to what they’re saying.”
“——You want to teach me a lesson? You wretched tramps aren’t even qualified to do so! Li Tiger has already been in and out of this prison 7 times. This time, I entered as a result of taking three lives——once you enter, you can’t even think of escaping again. You want to fight with me? You should take a good look at yourself first!”
This was an unfamiliar voice; it was most likely a new criminal delivered today. In the prison jargon used here, they would be called a ‘new recruit’.
“New recruits have to follow new recruits’ rules. We’ll teach you these rules in place of the administration…”
“Pfft, what bullshit rules.” That unfamiliar voice became more arrogant. “You guys just want to teach me, Li Tiger, a lesson in order to show off your strength, and then abuse me tyrannically afterwards——I, Li Tiger, won’t accept that kind of abuse.”
“You what? Leader friend, was the beating I gave you earlier not enough? How about I loosen your bones a bit? Let me tell you bastards, from today onwards, I am the leader of Group 7. If you listen to me, you’ll be able to eat rice. If you don’t, you’ll be eating your own shit.”
The copper lock opened, and Tang Zhong walked in through the iron door.
“What happened here?” Tang Zhong asked with a smile.
Seeing Tang Zhong walk in, the dozen or so bald criminals in dirt-colored prison uniforms all had happy expressions on their faces. Aside from the 4-5 injured people lying on the ground, unable to crawl up at all, the others all ran to Tang Zhong to greet him.
“Second-in-command, this new recruit committed an unreasonable crime. We were trying to teach him the rules, but he refused to learn them, and even went and beat up some of us——”
“Second-in-command, my arm was broken by him. You have to take charge of this.”
Tang Zhong turned around to look at the scar-faced man who was noisily and carefreely sitting on the bottom bunk and asked, “Are you Li Tiger?”
“That’s me. What kind of thing are you?” Li Tiger disdainfully swept a glance across Tang Zhong.
What kind of threat would such a pale and delicate little brat be to him?
However, he felt that this situation was slightly fishy when he saw the prison guard standing behind this person, gleefully smiling at him.
“I’m not a thing. I’m Tang Zhong.” Tang Zhong maintained an affable expression, and patiently explained, “The prison has its own rules. Since the police force isn’t enough, there is a need for some older people to give the new recruits lessons, as well as tell them of some rules that must be complied to——”
“Take a f*cking hike.” Li Tiger’s fiery temper became even more unbridled when he saw Tang Zhong’s smile. “I said this just now, but this is my eighth time entering prison——why do I need you guys to teach me about any rules?”
“Other prisons have other prison rules, Mt. Hen Prison has Mt. Hen’s rules.” Tang Zhong calmly said. “Two different things.”
“My fists are large; the words I say are the rules.” Li Tiger viciously shot back. He used his finger to point at the moaning criminals lying on the ground and said, “They’re the first example of what happens to those that don’t listen.”
Tang Zhong couldn’t help but chuckle as he replied, “Didn’t you hear what they called me earlier?”
“Who cares what they called you.” Li Tiger jumped up from the bed and like a slap in the face, pointed his thumb at Tang Zhong and insulted, “Little child, if you don’t get lost, the awesome me will swat you to death with a single strike.”
“They call me Second-in-command.” Tang Zhong lightly sighed. Those ‘developed limbs but simple head’ descriptions probably described this kind of person. “In other words, aside from the Head-in-command, everyone in this prison must obey me.”
Li Tiger gave a wild laugh. The muscles on his face twitched as he roared lowly, “Little child, you really act recklessly. Let me tell you, I already have three lives in my hands, and I don’t mind adding another——”
Tang Zhong then understood that this was a person that had low intelligence and loved to jab and infuriate others. There was only one way to against people like him——order dishes.
“Order some dishes then.” Tang Zhong stuck his hands in his pockets and tilted his head upwards as he asked, “Sweet pork shoulder or chili abalone. Which would you prefer to eat?”
This so-called ‘sweet pork shoulder’ was using the elbow/shoulder region to violently hit a person in the kidney area. If this was ‘eaten’, the criminal wouldn’t be able to stand up, and would probably even piss blood. ‘‘Chili abalone’ was fiercer, hotter, and harder to endure than ‘sweet pork shoulder’. It required using a wire or coarse rope that had been soaked in water to strike a person’s body. After hitting them, their skin would be overturned completely like fish scales.
There were also other dish names like the “egg pancake’‘ and “segmented beef”. The most special trait these methods of beating people up had was that one couldn’t see any injuries on the outside——–
(TL Note: These are all Chinese dishes that really don’t have translations, so I made my own up.)
Li Tiger heartily laughed, then cursed without restraint, “Order your mom——”
Before he’d even finished his sentence, his mouth was shut closed.
Because, Tang Zhong had already punched him in the face.
A clear sound rang out. A few large, yellow teeth came flying out hidden amidst the vomited blood…
“You won’t order? I’ll help you order then. Since you’re a newcomer, I’ll invite you to eat a Sweet Knee first.”
As he spoke, Tang Zhong’s knee had already mercilessly struck upwards towards Li Tiger’s waist where his kidneys were.
Once, twice, three times——
As fast as lightning, as fierce as thunder.
In the blink of an eye, the Li Tiger that had been standing upright akin to a small mountain spat out a mouthful of blood and crashed onto the ground.
From the beginning to end, the ‘large fists’ he’d been so proud of hadn’t even had a chance to swipe in a hit.
“Stop hitting——I beg of you, stop——” Li Tiger’s body was curled up into a ball; his two hands held his head as he cried in pain and begged for mercy.
Tang Zhong retracted his feet and accepted the towel politely passed over to him to wipe his hands.
“Can you attend class now?” Tang Zhong asked.
“I can. I can.” Li Tiger wailed in reply, the teardrops in his eyes dripping down.
“I’ll leave it to you guys.” Tang Zhong said.
“Thank you, Second-in-command.”
“Second-in-command, take care.”
“Second-in-command, please come by often——who the f*ck just kicked my ass?”
Tang Zhong laughed, and allowed the prison guard to lock the iron door.
“Second-in-command, I’ve troubled you again.” The prison guard said with a grateful expression.
Tang Zhong waved his hand and replied, “I’m used to it.”
He was indeed used to it.
Tang Zhong was a child that had grown up in the prison. Since he was able to think for himself, his father had already become the prison chief of Mt. Hen Prison. In other words, his father was the “Head-in-command” that everyone talked about.
Tang Zhong had suffered from ADHD since he was young, and he could never stay idle. His father had always been busy with work, so he’d run around the prison by himself.
Because of his special identity and status, he naturally became the “Little Prince” of the prison. The prison guards cherished him, and the criminals tried to curry favor with him. Also, because he was clever and studious, he was greatly interested in various bizarre things. Thus, everyone was happy to teach him some unique skills.
A long time had passed, and he’d grown older. He came to understand more and more things, and his reputation had increased as well. Everyone loved to find him and request for him to deal with issues. When the prison chief wasn’t present, Tang Zhong would be responsible for some work. Thus, he’d become Mt. Hen Prison’s ‘Second-in-command’.
When Tang Zhong returned to the room, he discovered that the room door was open. The previously nowhere to be found ‘Head-in-command’ and a female stranger were currently waiting inside. When the two people heard the sound of Tang Zhong’s footsteps, they simultaneously looked at him.
‘Head-in-command’ hadn’t even gotten the chance to speak before that extremely pretty woman asked with an expression full of pleasant surprise, “He’s Tang Zhong?”
The woman had short, layered red hair that gave people a neat and tidy feeling. She had elegant, bright and beautiful, alluring almond-shaped eyes. Her charming lips were slightly plump, and had been painted a bright red color, like that of a magnificent, blossoming rose. Anyone that saw them couldn’t help but have the urge to want to pounce towards her and chomp on them a few hundred times.
She wore a silver professional outfit, perfectly setting off her sexy figure. She had an ample bosom, slim waist, and a perfectly rounded butt. With the addition of the large, black-rimmed glasses she wore, she gave off the sense of an intellectual beauty.
Her gaze was bright, and she had an extremely excited expression. It was as if she’d just found her long lost son.
“Yes.” Head-in-command said in a muffled voice. His dense beard tightly covered his mouth, making it sound like it was the cry of a bug hidden within.
“Alike. Really too alike.” The woman continued to praise. “Wonderful. He’s the one I’m looking for.”
“You guys talk. I won’t participate.” Head-in-command glanced at his son, then turned around to walk out.
“Hey——” Tang Zhong shouted. That beardy hadn’t even introduced the woman’s identity and origins yet.
The woman’s eyes darted between Tang Zhong’s face and body over and over, like a female pervert lusting after his appearance.
After staring at him for a long while, she finally took the initiative to stretch her hand out towards Tang Zhong. With a charming smile, she said, “Let’s get acquainted with each other first——Bai Su. Bai from ‘eating for free’, and Su from ‘vegetables’”.
(TL Note: The ‘bai’ comes from ‘bai chi’ = eating for free. The ‘su’ comes from ‘su cai’ = vegetables,)
“Tang Zhong.” Tang Zhong reached out to grasp her warm, small hand that held the slightest trace of sweat as well, and introduced himself. “Tang from Tang Taizong, Zhong from ‘weight’, not the chong from ‘repeat’. However, you seem to already know my name.”
(TL Note: This is a bit more confusing. He actually says ‘tang’ from “tang zong su zhu”, which is an idiom which literally refers to Tang Taizong, Li Shimin, Song Taizu, and Zhao Kuangyin, four famous emperors combined. The idiom itself refers to an enlightening monarch, a good emperor.
The character ‘zhong’ can also be pronounced ‘chong’. As he mentions, ‘zhong liang’ means weight, and that is the pronunciation of the character that his name uses. It is pronounced as chong when used as ‘chong fu’, or repeat. He clarifies that this is not the pronunciation his name uses.)
“Pfft——” Bai Su giggled. “Self-introductions like that exist?”
“You’ve already witnessed it.” Tang Zhong replied.
Bai Su gave a gurgling laugh, and then resolutely looked at Tang Zhong. With her sexy red lips and enticing voice, she asked, “Do you like Leslie Cheung?”
“I do.” Tang Zhong replied. He very much liked the movie that Leslie Cheung had starred in.
“Do you like Chow Yun-Fat?”
“I do.” In Tang Zhong’s eyes, Chou Yun Fat’s version of was a classic that was hard to exceed.
“Do you like Andy Lau?”
“I also like him.” He could act and sing, a diligent and ageless god.
“Do——you want to become a god-like superstar like them?”
Tang Zhong looked at her with an astonished expression.
“Drive a famous car, live in a mansion, have your pictures published in magazines and newspapers, becoming countless people’s idol, receiving the attention and pursuit of young girls from all over the world——”
“Are you retarded?” Tang Zhong asked while looking at her with an expression of sympathy.
How could the mind of such a beautiful woman be so screwed up?