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87 In Hard Though

    Gan Tian Chi thought for a while before he said in a gentle voice "We are not all good, yet we are not entirely evil. We merely do what we wish to our whims." As he finished speaking, everything was silent as he continued to walk on.

    His strange words made Xue'er lost for a while. Believing he was hinting at something else. Trying to clear something up, but she could not understand.

    [Could it be he does not approve of my actions?] She silently worried as she chased after him.

    They soon made it to the most bustling parts of the town, where they blended in completely with the different shades of red. Gan Tian Chi's head looked left and right at all the stalls and activities that were going on at the same time. He seemed like a young child that was easily amused at everything that passed by.

    Xue'er was also amazed by the excitement on his face. Now that she thought about it, she too had the same expression when she discovered something worthy of her attention.

    "Gan Tian Chi, is there anything exciting?" She looked towards him and asked.

    "Indeed, indeed..." He nodded and turned his head towards the lanterns made with colorful rice paper, with a candle inside giving the entire lantern a glow filled with life. "Xue'er, do you want one?" Gan Tian Chi asked.

    "Okay." She answered. There was no harm.

    Gan Tian Chi paid with a few coins, and gave her a lantern that was in the shape of a little fish that looked like it was swimming, with its tail swaying left and right due to the mechanism, along with the vibrant yellow, red and green with a few streaks of gold made the lantern very lifelike. She had to admit that the lantern was quite beautiful, all be it, fragile. In the end, it was still made of rice paper that could rot away with time, or broken with a small pebble.

    "Thank you." Xue'er said to Gan Tian Chi. It was a word said, and she had meant it with all her heart.

    "No need to thank me." He said as he looked at the other nicknacks all around, twirling a pinwheel round and round playfully with his fingers, and taking a deep breath of the air. Giving a slight cough, when he realized he inhaled a breath of smoke. Its taste was difficult to explain, but it was definitely toxic.

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    "There was a fire." She said straight away, as soon as she heard him cough, though she did not go into deep detail. Nothing could ever be hidden from him anyway.

    "Hm... Arsenic." He muttered with a curious expression that soon disappeared, dragging Xue'er into a less crowded area, seeming to have forgotten about the fire she had told him about.

    He gave a smile as he found a space for them to sit. Against the walls of a store that had been closed up with a sign stating that it would reopen on the day after the soup dumpling festival. Gan Tian Chi straightened out his crimson robes and his hair tie, looking at Xue'er with a smiling face.

    "How has your assignment been going?" He questioned. Of course, he was referring to the arrangement he had given her. The task to have herself behave like a child.

    "I work at an embroidery shop, and I became friends with a girl by the name of Xiao Ya." She answered honestly.

    "Good, good..." Gan Tian Chi said, resting his back against the wall in a carefree manner.

    Only someone like him would be able to freely sit like this in front of someone else's shop, and in such a relaxed manner at that too, he greeted every single person that walked by, but they did not seem to care the slightest, not even returning the greeting. Xue'er felt like hiding when she saw the people pass by.

    "Gan Tian Chi."

    "Hm..."

    "Do you find the new year here exciting?" Xue'er asked. She was referring to the festival in this town, that was so far from true prosperity that could only be observed in the capital.

    "Yes, so much has changed, you probably don't know this, but a long time ago, it wasn't this busy, there were people who just paint their doors red, and make loud noises to scare that thing away, now it has changed so much." Gan Tian Chi said reminiscently.

    It had been a long time since he truly celebrated, and now that he decided to, everything had changed. There was a time when this was about survival, but now it had morphed into a celebration.

    "Oh, so you're not much better than me when it comes to these things?" Xue'er said with a spirited smile that was rare on her face.

    "I guess you could say that." Gan Tian Chi said with a shrug, "But do you know what has not changed?"

    "What?"

    "The food." He answered. There were some things that would never change no matter how much time passed, and food was one of those things. It was perhaps one of the few activities that he was proud to say that he knew quite well.

    "I already ate." Xue'er said blandly. Remembering the food she with Huo momo. The good dumplings and desserts.

    "Oh, would you have room in your stomach for another meal?" Gan Tian Chi asked.

    "Why not?" She answered with a childlike smile. Her pupils were as bright as the moon as her gaze landed on him. She would always have the stomach for another meal.

    "You're learning." He said with satisfaction as he led the way to a small little place that would be opened all year round.

    Of course, she had been diligently observing for the past few months he was away. Needless to say, she was quite happy because of the complement that had been given.
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