1 The Person He Is Waiting For

Translator: Lordbluefire



Volume 1: The First Chapter of Night: Sonata




Autumn 2022.


A drizzle broke through the gray skies overhead and coated the streets of the city.


It was autumn. From time to time, one could witness the sight of pedestrians without an umbrella, shielding themselves from the rain with just their arms as they hurried their way.


In the narrow military-civilian alley, a teenager seemingly about 17 or 18 years of age and an old man were sitting across from each other under a canopy beside a supermarket kiosk.


The world outside of the canopy was dark, with rain coating the ground into light gray. Only the floor within the canopy remained dry, as though it was the only pure land left in this world. 


Right now, a worn-out wooden chess board lay in front of them, with the words "Fortune Supermarket" marked in red at the top.


"Checkmate." Young Qing Chen stood up after uttering this single word, leaving the old man with thinning hair sitting still.


After that, Qing Chen spared a glance at him and spoke calmly, "There's no point in struggling."


"I can… still do this." Unwilling to admit defeat, the old man rebutted, "We are only at the thirteenth move..."


From his words, it was apparent that losing the game in just thirteen moves embarrassed him.


Qing Chen did not explain further. The intention behind the move had been displayed on the chessboard. It was the ultimate moment, and the result of the match was unveiled. 


This young man had a clean face and clear eyes, and he was clad in a simple uniform. Just by sitting there, it was as though he could cleanse the world around him.


Throwing the chess piece in his hand against the board, the old man conceded defeat. 


After watching this, without regard for the old man, Qing Chen walked into the supermarket kiosk next door and collected $20 from the basket of change underneath the counter, placing it into his pocket. 


The old man swore with his glare at Qing Chen. "I've been losing $20 to you every day! I just won $20 from Old Li and Old Zhang this afternoon, and now I've lost it all to you!"


Qing Chen collected his money and returned to the chessboard, reviewing the game as he responded, "If it wasn't because they stopped wanting to play chess with me, I wouldn't have to resort to winning it from you either. You want face*, and I want money. It's fair."


"So, you're bent on making me your prey, right?" the old man muttered. "The fortune-teller said I could live till 78 years old. I'm only 50 now. How much money would I have to lose to you if I were to lose $20 every day?"


"But I can teach you how to play chess, to win back face*," Qing Chen replied coolly. "If you take that into consideration, you're not losing out."


"You have only taught useless things for the past two days," the old man mumbled.

Qing Chen glanced at him. "Don't say that about yourself."


The old man, "???"


After resetting the chessboard in a poor mood, the old man continued impatiently, "Fine, fine. Let's review."


At this moment, Qing Chen lowered his head abruptly.


The time which had just slipped by seemed to replay in his mind. 


The first attack from the cannon and the movement of the soldier at the Chu River and Han Border.* His mind played them back all over again.


That's not all.


There was also the uncle who passed by them as they were playing, with four sesame seed-coated cakes he just bought in his hand. The freshly baked cakes caused water vapor to form and condense against the transparent plastic bag, creating a layer of fog. 


After that, a little girl in a white skirt walked over with an umbrella in her hand. Two beautiful butterflies decorated the top of her little white leather shoes.


Above the blue dome of heaven, the rain floated down and landed in the alley, crystal clear.


At the end of the alley, bus No.103 flashed past the narrow mouth of the passageway, and a woman in a beige trench coat ran to the bus stop with an umbrella.

The sound of footsteps, the sound of running water as rain seeped into the manhole cover on the side of the road—these noises made the world seem even more peaceful.


Qing Chen had never forgotten about any of them, though recalling them was a little difficult.


Difficult, but not impossible.


This strange ability of recollection was Qing Chen's innate talent. It was like he could reach into the river of time and retrieve an archive. After that, he could watch the images from the saved file. 


At this moment, Qing Chen suppressed the dizziness that crept into his brain, and he pinched the chess pieces. 


Seeing this, the old man stopped talking immediately and gathered all his attention on the chessboard. This review after every match was also part of the clause in their gambling agreement.


Qing Chen was in charge of teaching, and the old man would learn how to play after losing.


It was a peculiar sight. Qing Chen did not possess the humility or reservedness that a young man should possess when facing the elderly. Instead, he looked like a teacher.


The other party did not think much of it either. 


"Red cannon advance to rank 2, file 5, black cannon advance to rank 8, file 7. Red horse advance to rank 2, file 3, black horse to rank 8, file 7. Red chariot to rank 1, file 1, black chariot to rank 9, file 8*..." Qing Cheng shifted the pieces move by move.


The old man did not blink. Everything so far had been a regular opening to a match, but he could not understand how he had gone into a decline at the sixth move, even though he had captured his opponent's horse.


"The essence of Horse Gambit for Thirteen Move Kill is in the sixth move—sacrificing the horse to advance on the chariot. It's a trump card to tear down the defense line," Qing Chen explained quietly. "I saw the match you had the day before, with the old man at Royal City Garden. He likes to start the chess match by following his opponent's placement of either the left or right cannon to the center. With this Horse Gambit for Thirteen Move Kill, defeating him will not be an issue." 


The old man opposite him was in deep thought before speaking up softly, "Will this truly defeat him?"


"You can regain face* if you learn Horse Gambit for Thirteen Move Kill from me within a week," Qing Chen replied. "After all, he's not that great of a player."


The old man showed a hint of joy.


Abruptly, the old man asked again, "If I could defeat him after learning for a week, then how long would I need to defeat you?"


Under the canopy, Qing Chen thought hard about it. "The fortune-teller mentioned that you would live till 78 years old, right? Then… You will not have enough time."


The old man's face fell. "Who knows, I might live till 79 if you spoke less… Hey, shouldn't you be at night-time self-revision? Why did school end so early today?"


He knew that Qing Chen was a sophomore, and today was a Tuesday. Therefore, the Thirteenth High School outside the two streets was currently having night-time self-revision.

Qing Chen responded after some thought, "I'm waiting for someone."


"Waiting for someone?" The old man was stunned.


Qing Chen got up and watched the drizzle beyond the canopy, his gaze fixated on the rain.


The old man spoke, "Qing Chen, you young fellow, since you're so good at chess, why don't you join chess competitions? Didn't you say you needed money? You can get the prize money from winning competitions too."


Young Qing Chen shook his head. "I just have a lot of chess strategies memorized, but I'm not great at chess. Memory doesn't equate to analytical skills. It'll be fine enough to play against you guys, but I'll be making a fool of myself against an expert. This is not my path. Playing chess is just temporary."


"You have them all memorized…" The old man sighed. "I used to think that the ability to remember everything one has ever seen is a myth."


The rain came to a gradual stop.


At that moment, the old man realized that Qing Chen had frozen. Following the young man's gaze, toward the end of the military-civilian alley, the old man saw a couple walking over with a little boy in tow. 


The middle-aged woman was clad in an exquisite trench coat and carrying a box of cake in her hand. The box was embellished with a nice purple ribbon. 


The gray and the foggy world could not mask the joyful expressions on the three faces. After that, Qing Chen turned and left, leaving the old man to sit under the canopy outside Fortune Supermarket's entrance alone. The latter then let out a soft sigh. 


The middle-aged woman saw Qing Chen's retreating figure and shouted after him, but he didn't turn back, disappearing through the alley's other exit. 


The two walls encompassing the alley were old. When the white walls were worn out, they left behind patches of red brick.


The person Qing Chen was waiting for came, but he no longer wished to wait. 

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