|“||The sea waves are as fine a sight as any sailor could ask for.||”|
A Food Soul born in the Light Kingdom who travelled across the broad seas to the South. Over time, he grew to be someone who could withstand harsh environments, possessing a wealth of survival experience.
Bak kut teh (literally "meat bone tea" in Teochew) is a dish popular in Malaysia and Singapore consisting of pork ribs stewed in a pot. While there are no tea leaves or tea involved, "tea" became attached to the name due to the fact that people often drink tea when eating it to counteract the fatty, greasy nature of the broth. There are several different varieties, of which the Singaporean Teochew variety and Malaysian Hokkien variety are the most well-known.
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|Contract||The name's Bak Kut Teh, just an old nobody who's spent a lot of years vagabonding about. If you need anything, just ask.|
|Log In||You're back. The work in the kitchen is humming along, and everyone is giving their all. Really makes one happy.|
|Ice Arena||Brr, it's freezing here. Don't come in, just wait for me to recover and then I'll go see you.|
|Skills||Attendant, please stand back.|
|Ascend||I'm so used to watching you grow, I didn't expect that I'd change too. Not bad!|
|Fatigue||Sorry, I used up all my power without realizing it...|
|Recovering||I'm okay... At this rate, I'll be good as new soon.|
|Team Formation||Putting an old geezer like me in charge? If that's the case, then I guess I won't argue.|
|Knockout||Ugh... a weak link in the chain...|
|Notice||Oh, food's ready. It's sure to have a unique flavor.|
|Idle 1||Are all my old brothers back in the village still well? After all these decades, seeing them again would probably feel like a dream...|
|Idle 2||I'm really not used to sitting around with nothing to do like this. Maybe Attendant has something that needs doing.|
|Idle 3||Sometimes when things get quiet, I can't help but think back on my youth and the sound of the waves against my boat... although, I no longer wish to return to the past.|
|Interaction 1||In the past, there were a lot of things I didn't understand, but if you stay around those things for long enough, they start to sink in.|
|Interaction 2||Hahaha, young people are so energetic. Be sure to treasure your youth, eh?|
|Interaction 3||Hm? The scar on my face? Oh, it's from a long time ago. Does it look that bad?|
|Pledge||After knocking about all my life, this sudden switch to domesticated life takes some getting used to. Although being with you reminds me of those sunny days of my youth. That youth may be gone, but with you I have a new beginning, and that's pretty good.|
|Intimacy 1||I know the sting of hardship, so how could I let you feel that too? Don't worry, I won't steer you wrong.|
|Intimacy 2||Don't worry about my seeming so busy all the time. This body of mine doesn't quit.|
|Intimacy 3||Sorry, my hand is probably a little coarse...|
|Victory||Sorry. Only one of us was going to make it out alive. This time it just happened to be me.|
|Defeat||A few setbacks aren't cause to feel discouraged. It's only through experience that we can grow.|
|Feeding||What's this... haha, I never expected any repayment for my help-- but, thanks for the thought!|
- Teh just means tea in Hokkien.
- Song Fa Bak Kuh Teh is sold in Song Fa, a chain restaurant in Singapore. It was founded in 1969 by Mr Yeo Eng Song who pushed around a pushcart and sold Bak Kuh Teh. Over the years, it expanded from a family stall into a restaurant and currently operates in 4 countries: Singapore, Indonesia, China and Thailand. (see Song Fa Bak Kut Teh)
- Klang Bak Kuh Teh is claimed to have been invented in Port Klang for coolies working at the port to supplement their meager diet and as a tonic to boost their health in the early 20th century. Bak kuh Teh is popularly associated with Kland town. (see Bak kut teh)
This Story has been fan-translatedby cakerollkarol.. Official translations will be added when they become available.
I. Hometown Return
The sails went fwoosh in the wind, the port before me drew closer and closer, and in the distance were endless emerald mountains.
My body suddenly felt somewhat stiff as I leaned against the ship’s mast.
“What are you zoning out for? We’ve reached the port, hurry and get down from the ship.”
Someone suddenly patted my shoulder and I snapped back to reality. Rum had already walked upfront.
The cool morning wind of late autumn blew by, and cleared my head a bit.
After I checked over the parcel in my hands, I followed the crewmen off the ship.
Having drifted across the seas for over thirty years, I’ve returned to where I was first summoned—Light Kingdom.
Relying on my not-quite fuzzy memories, I passed the piers. After walking some distance, I arrived on higher ground.
Even though I had long ago mentally prepared myself to face this old place without any of its former inhabitants, seeing the barren land before me still saddened me.
A small courtyard slowly appeared in mind. I still remembered the window in the south, where you could see the cerulean blue sea in the distance. Sometimes, the roar of steam whistles from the docks would even drift by.
Gazing at the few withered and yellowed willow trees, my eyes could not stop themselves from welling up. For a long while, I did not talk.
I picked a small piece of land, and carefully wiped the box inside the parcel in my arms, then buried the box.
When I finished, I stood up and bowed.
It was only when I turned to leave that I realized that Rum had been standing behind me, a short distance away, for who knows how long.
“Why not stay for a bit longer?”
“This is enough.”
Rum said no more, as if to go along with me. We returned to the docks, silent the entire way.
“Bak Kut Teh, you… What do you plan on doing after today?”
“Since you let me join your pirate crew back then, naturally, I wouldn’t leave halfway through.”
“Moreover, I currently have nowhere else to go. Staying with the crew to help the youngsters is also quite nice.”
“I suppose so. If you don’t mind, take me for a stroll around this small town then.”
II. Yearning for the Sea
Thirty years ago, Light Kingdom.
“...And when the sky cleared, there were a few blue whales following our boat. Passing through a large coral reef, behind us was…”
“And then what, and then what!”
“What did you see!? Was it a shark!?”
“I bet it’s a big iceberg!”
The children’s young and tender voices didn’t cease their clamoring. However, the sound of the man speaking stopped them.
‘We’ll continue again tomorrow. It’s already late, you two should hurry to bed. Bak Kut Teh, you can also rest up earlier.”
The sound of their initial disappointment fell only to be replaced by more. I couldn’t help but laugh.
As the children reluctantly left the room, they were still eagerly asking their father when he could bring them out to sea.
The man let out a hearty laugh, and stroked his two children’s heads.
“We’ll wait until the time is right, then I’ll bring you both to sea.”
I closed the bedroom door for the kids. The model of a ship, hanging against the door, lightly swayed, as if it were narrating a cheerful nautical dream.
I was summoned by a family of sailors in Light Kingdom.
The father was a sailor with lots of experience on the sea. My Master Attendant was the youngest son in the house, only thirteen years old.
The family had a special fascination towards the sea. I, too, would often sit with them by the window, listening to the father talk about his youth.
Sea water smacking against the reefs, sunsets falling beneath the sea, teeth of ferocious sharks, and Leafy Sea Queen’s alluring but fatal songs….
We were all completely engrossed as we listened, it was as if our own ears were hearing the distant calls of seagulls.
It was also then that my yearning for the sea was awakened.
Two years later, the four of us finally boarded the merchant ship, which had been with the father for many years.
We bid farewell to land, feeling excited and nervous, and sailed to the great blue depths.
Time passed in a flash, and our voyage took us halfway across Tierra. The two children had now grown into strong and fit youths. At the same time, they’ve also become outstanding sailors and were the leading examples at our company.
I too was becoming more and more accustomed to life on the sea, and quite enjoyed the free wind and waves.
Our crew stood out from the crowd of similar merchant ships, and we became the exemplar crew of the sea. Business and commissions kept on rolling in.
On this day, my Master Attendant accepted employment from a Palatan noble family to go to a mysterious little island deep within Distant Seas.
It’s said that underneath that island is an abandoned underwater city. The Duke wanted us to bring back precious treasures from the city. For this reason, he proposed a handsome payment, even providing us with many supplies and ships.
III. News of Treasure
Legends of treasure at sea will always captivate people, especially the powerful and the adventurous.
At the time, the legend came from Distant Seas Town. In the legend, when a fleet of ships got lost in the depths of Distant Seas Town, they unexpectedly came across an underground city, sunken beneath a small island. It was grand and radiant, and furthermore, completely preserved, holding countless treasures.
But surrounding this small island were hidden sea monsters, deep in sleep, and there were even Fallen Angel hauntings. Before the fleet could delve deeper, they were met with attacks from all kinds of beasts, and a good half of their crewmen were killed.
There’s never a lack of adventurers at sea, but to this day, no one has ever succeeded in bringing out the city’s treasures.
For two days and two nights, the huge fleet sailed in the map’s direction. After sailing through thick fog, we finally saw the rumored island.
In the nearby waters of the small island, there were rags and scattered junk floating around.
The surrounding sea monsters seem to have filled their stomachs and had now fallen into deep slumber. However, there was still an aura of danger being emitted, warning us of the perils of the journey.
After everyone discussed, we decided that due to our excessive fleet numbers, we would send out a boat to get a look at the situation. As I was one of the few Food Souls on board, I naturally took the initiative to lead.
Our boat carefully headed to the back; fortunately, the aura of the sea monsters behind the small island was gradually weakening, so at least it made a good opening.
I chose a relatively safe spot, and commanded the boat to dock.
That was probably a sight that I would never forget.
The huge, grand underwater city was an absolute majestic underwater miracle.
Under the weak light, an indescribably beautiful radiance cast upon the palace and throne, which had sunk into the depths; there were wall tiles paved with pearls and shells, just like a temple of the olden days.
Everyone held their breath and marvelled. I even felt that in the next second, a group of gorgeously dressed mermaids was going to emerge and sing some distant old song.
Perhaps it was because of the ocean floor’s temperature that these buildings and objects had been preserved until now. We also began setting out to search for rare treasures, having successfully hauled them over to the reinforcement fleet waiting outside. After a few trips, several large ships have been filled to the brim.
And this underwater city was just the tip of the iceberg.
IV. Ruthless Storm
Just as I was loading up the final transport, an enormous sound came from the direction of the fleet, like a machine roaring to life. The howl of a sea monster followed in its wake.
Remembering that many of the crewmen were still on the big ship, I dropped the things in my arms, and quickly turned the ship to reverse course.
The savage creatures had bound up all of the crewmen, and red instantly spread across the water’s surface. The air was filled with the wails and shrieks of the crewmen, the sails and decks had been torn, and wreckage drifted everywhere...
This was the image that greeted us when we emerged from the underwater city.
In the distance, two of the Duke’s fleets that originally set sail with us, along with another unfamiliar big ship, whizzed past as they fled.
Vaguely, I could make out a masked Food Soul with long green hair on the ship, who seemed to be gazing in our direction.
Fury, sorrow, and confusion suddenly surged to my chest…
“Bak Kut Teh! I’m leaving these sea monsters for you to take care of, I’ll go save the injured!”
Master Attendant’s trembling but firm voice sounded out, suddenly snapping me back. I held my emotions back and immediately set up the remaining artillery fire, firing at the incoming sea monsters.
Seeing that the shells were close to running out, and that Master Attendant was still doing his best overseeing the relief efforts, I gritted my teeth and dove into the water, using a changdao to fight the sea monsters. What’s even worse was that the figure of Leafy Sea Queen had appeared in the distance. The intense fighting would eventually attract Fallen Angels.
Resolving to protect everyone with my life, I went all out with the two remaining Food Souls. We finally managed to defeat the Fallen Angels at a pivotal moment.
Once again, the water surface had calmed. The pungent smell of blood and seawater had mixed together, and we were still shrouded in a thick fog.
The damage was still severe; there were actually only five survivors left from that huge fleet. Master Attendant’s father and elder brother were among the one hundred plus people buried in this disaster...
Hauling my exhausted and wounded body, I was finally able to bring the five survivors to the nearest coast town using my last shred of strength.
By the time I awakened, it was the last time me and Master Attendant saw each other. In the end, Master, who was also sacrificing himself to protect the others, couldn’t hold out.
“Had I not accepted that commission then… it would’ve been so much better… I shouldn’t have let the entire fleet take the risk… It was me who couldn’t protect them.”
“Had the ocean been calm and slowly rising and falling, everyone wouldn’t have pressed on either. To be fearless of winds and waves is to be a true sailor, and everyone proved themselves. Master Attendant, this is most certainly not your fault.”
“Thank you, Bak Kut Teh… You’ve always been our most trusted companion. I still have to bother you with my last wish.”
“I’ll have it done, no matter what it is.”
“I hope you can take my father, my brother, and my badges, and continue to voyage on this sea, before finally returning us to Light Kingdom once more, and bury us on the soil of our hometown.”
“I’m convinced you’ll definitely become the most outstanding sailor.”
V. Bak Kut Teh
Light Kingdom’s Zhiyuan fleet used to be one of the most famed fleets of Tierra. Their reputation and task performance were of front rank. But, it was during one commission that all of the troops of Zhiyuan were practically wiped out. Only two of the Duke’s ships were lucky enough to escape and carry back the treasures.
Back then, rumors of the underwater city were extremely well known, but ever since the Zhiyuan incident, no one has dared go to that small island again. Speculations of that underwater palace grew more and more; some say it was a fallen ancient city, others say it’s the palace of sea monsters.
But it has been said there’s been daring folks who’ve found treasures that fell off the ship in the nearby waters. Some of the objects had strange markings on them...
However, it’s been revealed by those who managed to escape, it was after the treasures had been transported out that the allied fleets were attacked by another fleet, only then awakening the sea monsters.
Among them, two of the Duke’s ships were ordered to bring the treasures back, to the point where they were even allowed to cast everyone else aside to flee if necessary. Only the folks on the Zhiyuan fleet fought to the very end.
On that day, the villagers of a small town discovered a wrecked boat on the shore, five dying people, and a Food Soul drenched in blood…
Bak Kut Teh still wandered around Tierra’s seas, hitchhiking on fleets both large and small, and voyaged to all sorts of places. He saw even more, and made lots of friends.
In time, he grew tougher, and the erosion of the winds and waves made him even more mature, stable, and open minded.
Relying on his rich experience of the sea, he quickly became a member of the Gloriville navy.
Even though he no longer fought in the front lines, Bak Kut Teh, who had quietly retired into military logistics, was still a competent officer.
When he accidentally heard a few drunk aristocrats conversing during some banquet held for the navy by the royal family, he finally chose to stand on the side of the innocent Food Souls.
To this day, most of the navy’s so called victories were nothing more but efforts to please the nobility. What’s more, they were built upon the struggles and sacrifice of many, many Food Souls.
And so, when he made the choice to save those Food Souls being deceived by human schemes, and was caught by Rum, Bak Kut Teh had already made the preparations to face everything.
- Translator’s Note: Proverb used in this instance was (物是人非) which means “things stay, but people change.”
- Translator’s Note: The word used here was originally “complex,” but seeing as how the family’s feelings towards the sea are mostly that of wonder and excitement, it felt odd to use “complex.”
- Translator’s Note: A changdao is a two handed, single edged Chinese sword. It’s similar in length to a western Great Sword, and was first used in the Tang Dynasty, before re-emerging in the Ming Dynasty.
- Translator’s Note: It’s likely this fleet is named after after the real life Chinese cruiser Zhiyuan, built for the imperial Chinese Navy in 1885. Her sole action was in the Battle of the Yalu River in the First Sino Japanese War before she was destroyed; famously, her captain, Deng Shichang went down with her, along with his beloved dog.