That day, they were nearly done before lunch. Even though the devious plan of his majesty worked wonders, it made the game very boring.
Another hour had passed and the red team still had no idea where Ye Lang was. It was almost as if he had skipped town.
At that moment, the eldest prince thought to himself, If he wants to play hide and seek, we’ll play it all the way…
“Who knows number 5050?” said the prince, almost loathingly.
“I do, he is Debbie’s friend. He seems close with the third princess too. If I’m not wrong, he is also Debbie’s partner,” said someone that observed Ye Lang before the game started. He knew that Ye Lang knew the girls but he had no idea who he actually was.
“Good, let’s go to Debbie and guard her!! The others can rest, let’s not waste our energy on a rat!!” ordered the prince.
The prince decided to play the long game and wait it out. Ye Lang would eventually show himself and they would catch him then.
If he didn’t show up, well, they would win anyway!!
“What, he’s playing hide and seek with you? Hiding in some corner?” asked Debbie in shock after listening to the prince’s description.
That prat. He said he would snatch me but he is hiding instead! Ugh, men!
“Yes! There’s only him left, or else we could end this game already! Debbie, can you tell me more about him? It would be easier to catch him that way!” said the prince calmly. He was ready to rest then. He sipped on the hot tea he made as soon as he went to Debbie.
“I’m not too sure either. I know he is called Ye Lang. He’s a skilled swordmaster, around our age but he’s poor. Someone could have held him back because he couldn’t pay for his meal for all I know,” said Debbie. After some serious thought, she realised she really didn’t know much about Ye Lang.
“A skilled swordmaster? I don’t know who he is but I want to meet him now,” the prince smiled as he spoke. He didn’t rush to find Ye Lang, he planned to stay put and waste the rest of the day here.
The winner was already decided in his mind, why would he need to rush? It was much nicer to stay here and enjoy his tea.
What they didn’t know was that Ye Lang was stuck in the exact situation that Debbie described.
A few hours ago…
“No way, I just ate a bowl of beef noodle with some side dishes. How could it be one gold coin? Are your beef noodles made with gold? Or are the side dishes a gift from a goddess?” Ye Lang was at a store near where the games were held to recharge before he continued.
To his surprise, the amount was too expensive for him. If it was the old him, he wouldn’t even care and tossed the store owner a gold coin.
But it was different now. He’s disguised as a commoner. He only had three silver coins on him and no space ring. He could only bargain with the store owner.
He had a relatively simple meal, it would at most cost him a silver coin but the store owner was asking for a gold coin, that was too much!!
“Excuse me, but I think you didn’t read our signboard!” said the owner with a sly smile.
Ye Lang walked out and took a look. The signboard had three large words written on it --
One Gold Noodles!
“What? One Gold Noodles? Don’t tell me you actually mean it’s a gold piece for a bowl of noodles?” asked Ye Lang.
“That’s right. That’s exactly what it means. We gave you those side dishes on the house! We’re only charging you for the noodles! Now, please pay one gold coin!” said the store owner with a smile.
“Hey! Aren’t you just scamming people?!” said Ye Lang, his temper rising.
“Dear customer, don’t be angry. We’re not scamming people, we’re honest! Also, we didn’t write one gold noodle, look at the sidenote,” said the owner as he pointed at the signboard with a proud expression.
The signboard was a little dated and that seemed to make the owner really proud.
“... Bond? 007?” said Ye Lang as he saw the sidenote. Bond was written on it and nothing else. The only Bond he knew was 007 and that was it.
“What 007? That is our emperor’s *name. This signboard was gifted to us by his majesty. Everyone that comes here knows about this signboard and knows that each bowl of noodle here costs a gold coin,” said the store owner proudly.
*It wasn’t the emperor’s actual name. It was taboo for people to call the emperor by his real name so this is the name the commoners used to refer to him.
Quite some time ago, the Ai La Emperor visited the noodle store and was so pleased with what he ate, he praised it to no end.
He said the bowl of noodles was hard to come by even if someone paid a thousand gold coins for it but he thought that sounded too ridiculous so he changed it to a gold piece a bowl.
In the spur of the moment, the emperor wrote the three words as an encouragement for the store owner. The show owner then turned it into the signboard and actually charged people a gold piece for a bowl.
At first, his business was booming. Many nobles didn’t mind the price, they just wanted a taste of the bowl of noodles that the emperor praised to no end.
The store owner became smug. Even if the quality of the noodles dropped, people still praised him. Eventually, he became lazy and the noodles were never like before.
Soon, the store was no different than every other noodle store on the street but it still managed to survive from the reputation it built up with the signboard.
“Ugh! What kind of emperor writes this kind of signboard?! Do you think you can get away with this?!” said Ye Lang bluntly.
“...How dare you insult our emperor like this? Do you not want your life?!” The store owner’s face turned sour. The emperor was the force of his life, the thing that kept him going on in this world.
“ I don’t want my life then! Here’s three silver coins! Take it or leave it!” said Ye Lang. He was ready to play the life of a true bum, well the store owner already viewed him as a bum anyway.