In July, the hot summer had nearly passed by and the air was finally beginning to cool. The Su family’s yard was quiet this afternoon.
Su Tang walked straight across the courtyard to the kitchen. Madam Zhao, her nominal grandmother, saw what she was doing from the main room and felt annoyed. But she didn’t dare do anything more, for fear that Su Tang might smash her own head again. If Su Tang died, who would the Su family sacrifice to the River God tomorrow?
After a brief glance across the four rooms of the Su family, which were all silent like they were playing dead, Su Tang put on a smile that was more like a sneer and walked into the kitchen to boil the rest of the eggs in the pot and take them away.
A person who was going to die tomorrow would obviously have no scruples about taking some food.
“Sister…” When Su Tang took the eggs back with her to the barn she saw a little boy looking at her with big black eyes. He looked at her as if he was afraid that she would disappear at any moment.
Seeing the small child like that, Su Tang’s heart could not help but feel a throb of sympathy. Although this child was not her ‘real’ brother, she still felt distressed. Su Tang quickly handed him the bowl of eggs. “You eat Dalang!”
When the little boy saw that there were a dozen eggs in the bowl, his eyes opened wide with fear. He looked at his sister. “Can we really eat this? Won’t grandma scold you?”
Su Tang sat against the bedboard, peeled an egg, and then put it in the boy’s hand. “It’s fine, if I tell you to eat then you just go ahead and eat.”
The little boy’s lips pressed into a reluctant line and he couldn’t help but gulp. He seemed to have a brief internal struggle but eventually he put the egg back into Su Tang’s hand. “Sister you should eat this. You were injured and it will help you get better.”
As soon as he finished his words, Su Tang felt a sting at the corner of her eyes. He was such a sweet child. Why was there such a cruel person in this world who was willing to abuse him?
Su Tang rubbed her eyes and nodded. “Sister will eat, but Dalang should eat too. We can both eat.”
The boy looked up at his sister and tears welled in his eyes. “Sister, are we going to see our mother soon? They said that we are going to die and see the River God. Sister, can we not die?”
His childish language was like a sharp arrow that pierced Su Tang’s heart. She reached out to help her brother dry his tears, “We won’t die, we’ll both live well, better than anyone else.”
When the little boy heard his sister say this, he threw himself into Su Tang’s arms.
Su Tang held her brother in her arms and her mind went back to a day ago. She had originally been an editor for an online publication. She happened to meet a client with an urgent need for a manuscript to be edited so she rushed to work overtime for two days.
It was said that staying up late would lead to baldness and Su Tang had proved with her own body that a person would not only go bald but would also lose their life. After staying up for two days straight, she had only seen the world go black and when she woke up again she was already Su Dani of the Su family.
Su Dani and Su Dalang were born to their father, Su Dafu, who was originally married to Madam Liu. But Madam Liu was in poor health and she died less than two years after giving birth to Dalang. So then Su Dafu married his current wife: Madam Wu.
After marrying in, Madam Wu would always say that Su Dani and Dalang were both fated to face adversity*, that they had killed their own mother, and that they were unlucky stars. By coincidence, the Su family had been having a harder and harder time over the past few years, until even their father and Madam Zhao did not like the sister and brother pair. They blamed them for making the Su family like this.
The simmering resentment finally exploded a few days ago when Su Sanshou, Su Dafu’s third brother, insisted on fishing in the Qing River with several of the village hoodlums. As a result, they had an accident and only half their lives were left when they came back. No one knew when or if they could wake up.
The Su family invited a witch to diagnose what was wrong and she said that Su Dani and her brother were fated to face adversity, which meant that they were in conflict with the Su family. In order to save Su Sanshou, it was necessary to pay tribute by offering the pair of children to the River God.
After hearing that, the Su family did not hesitate, and immediately wanted to hand over the sister and brother pair. When Su Dani heard that they were going to be sacrificed to the River God she kneeled and begged their father, Su Dafu, to spare them. Unfortunately, she did not get a response even after kneeling for a day. She only received disregard and indifference from her so-called relatives.
Su Dani was only eight years old and could not bear this at all so she impulsively smashed herself into a wall. Thus the modern Su Tang transmigrated in.
The Su family was shocked because they did not expect that Su Dani would dare to commit suicide. So they immediately invited a doctor. Madam Wu from the main branch and Madam Sun from the second branch were both afraid that Su Dani would die. After all, if she died they would have to send one of their own daughters as a sacrifice to the River God instead of Su Dani.
After Su Tang came over and learned that the brother and sister had such miserable lives, she naturally would not continue to be so submissive. After all, the Su family wanted to sacrifice them to the River God tomorrow so they would not dare let either of the siblings have any accidents. That was why she went to the kitchen so unscrupulously to eat and drink.
While the two siblings were peeling eggs on the shabby bedboard in the barn, they suddenly heard Madam Zhao’s screaming and scolding voice from the kitchen.
Dalang trembled with fear. He looked at his sister and found that, unlike him, his sister, who usually trembled as long as Madam Zhao was angry, didn’t seem afraid at all. When she felt him looking at her, she turned and smiled at him. “Eat quickly, don’t be afraid. Your sister is here.”
Seeing that his sister was so calm, Dalang’s fear slightly dissipated and he continued to peel the eggs.
The two siblings had never had enough to eat their whole lives. Of course they would not be able to eat more than a mouthful of eggs in a year. Now that there were so many eggs in front of him Dalang couldn’t help but eat them very carefully. It took a long time for him to swallow each mouthful.
Su Tang was not a real child so naturally she knew why Dalang was like this. When she saw it she could only feel even more sad in her heart.
As an editor, she had read a lot of online novels so she had some idea why she was here. She was afraid she would not be able to go back.
For that reason she could only live on in place of Su Dani and she pledged to take good care of her brother and let him grow up to live a good life. She really hoped that little eight-year-old girl also had a reincarnation and that she had met her mother by now. She hoped the original Su Dani could be born into a good family and live happily as a beautiful little princess in her next life.
While eating the eggs, Su Tang was thinking about what to do tomorrow. But while she was pondering she saw that the door of the barn opened. Someone rushed in and grabbed two eggs. “Big sister has so many eggs, give me a few!”
The boy who came was about five years old. He was the Erlang from the second branch of the Su family. Just now he heard Madam Zhao swearing in the kitchen and found out that Su Tang and her brother had eggs, so he rushed over to get some of them.
This Su Erlang was cunning and gluttonous and he liked to bully Dalang. Su Tang saw him licking his lips and trying to grab the eggs from her brother so she directly hit him on his hand and snatched the eggs back. “If you want to eat, you can go to the Qing River to see the River God in Dalang’s place tomorrow.”
Su Erlang saw that he had been robbed of his eggs and he felt unreconciled. He quickly reached out to try to take them back. But he saw Su Dalang had already collected all the eggs. He said, “I won’t give them to you.”
Su Tang saw her brother like this and a trace of a smile flashed through her eyes. Although he had been bullied since he was young he fortunately had not developed a cowardly temperament, that was very good.
Su Erlang was about to open his mouth and start to cry but Su Tang cut him off, “If you cry, I’ll tell Grandpa that you want to be the sacrifice to the river god instead of Dalang. Third uncle and third aunt will probably be very willing.”
“Bah, you go to hell by yourself, I’m not going. My mother said that even your own father, my uncle, doesn’t want to save you. You are stars of misfortune. If you two are here, I will never be able to get a beautiful wife or become a high-ranking official!”
Su Erlang took one last glance at the eggs in Dalang’s hands and decided he couldn’t get them so he said. “I’ll just give them to you. You’re going to die anyway!”
After saying that, he directly ran away. Su Tang’s eyes grew cold when she heard what Su Erlang said but when she looked out the door, her expression relaxed slightly.
*so this ‘fated to face adversity’ comes up a lot. It’s actually ‘命硬’ which literally means ‘hard life’. It’s a superstitious term that means that the person with the ‘命硬’ has will face many struggles but always overcome them – but that isn’t necessarily a good thing since (according to the superstition) they might end up proud and lonely from constantly withstands hard blows from life. It also signifies a ‘bad’ birth date that is liable to kill their relatives, according to the superstition.