|“||When is anything ever straight black-and-white in this world?||”|
Nanjing Roast Duck hails from the Evil Capital, and what she witnessed there formed her scheming, suspicious personality. she always wears a gentle smile, but that smile is also an unfathomable abyss. She excels at disguising herself as a harmless innocent, while in fact she's always weighing how things will play to her benefit. She'll think of ways to get other people to do things, but because of her gentle demeanor, they often don't even realize they're being used. She's accompanied by four little white ducks, and although they're a handful, they're the creatures she trusts most of all.
Nanjing Roast Duck, also called "Pipa duck", "Guan Li Roast Duck" and "Gong Duck", is a traditional dish from the Nanjing region which is marinated with a brine and then cured. It comes in two varieties; "Wax Board" and "Spring Board". Because of the tender and dense texture of the meat, it has the appearance of a flat board, hence it's literal name of "Board Duck". Nanjing Roast Duck has a plump exterior, fatty meat, and white skin, along with a crispy crunch and a savory aftertaste. It is famous for its hallmark qualities of "dry, flat, crispy, tender, and fragrant".
How to Acquire
blue = lvl 1red = max lvl
|Contract||Hehe...Master Attendant, let me greet you.|
|Log In||You're back Master Attendant. Hehe...you may put the things at the wall. Thanks for your hard work.|
|Ice Arena||Mine...it's cold here. Master Attendant, can you help me take my cloak.|
|Skills||I said it before, don't touch this.|
|Ascend||Hehe...Master, thanks for your help.|
|Fatigue||Master Attendant, can I trouble you to bring me back to my room.|
|Recovering||Oh...yes? (laugh) Don't worry, I'm a light sleeper so I'm not going to blame you for waking me up.|
|Team Formation||Come, please send the guests off.|
|Knockout||Which...steps was it that...went wrong?!|
|Notice||Whenever I saw Master cook, it seems not a big deal, never thought that cooking need skills......Go, take those dishes out.|
|Idle 1||Stop playing. If you break any of those, don't need me to tell you what might happen?|
|Idle 3||Ah......Master Attendant not here, who can help......to move the antique vase?|
|Interaction 1||What's this? A calculator? Mmm -- I appreciate your sentiment, but I'm not gonna change. I'm used to using my rosewood abacus...|
|Interaction 2||You like my pipa? To me, I also like it...the moon's nice today, so if you're free, would you mind going upstairs with me?|
|Interaction 3||Don't look at my note! Ah...hehe, sorry, I had written diary on it, about ladies' thought, couldn't let anyone to see.|
|Pledge||Yes, hehe, did you thought I won't answer you? Indeed, if someone else ask me, I will doubt their thought, but you, I'm willing to trust you.|
|Intimacy 1||Who?! Ah......Is you......scared me. Why are you upset, I was the one who scared......|
|Intimacy 3||Ugh, you should be careful. If you aren't sure, don't judge it, discuss with me first.|
|Victory||I'm afraid I need to change this string...Huh? Master, you're really planning to go buy for me? (Laugh) In that case, thanks for your trouble.|
|Defeat||Quickly go. Get away as far as you can.|
|Feeding||If you have anything, just speak directly to me. You don't have to do -- Oh?! It's...it's tasty!|
|Contents of this page has been fan-translated and may not be completely accurate.|
Official translations will be added whenever it's available.
I. Evil Capital
That was my first time being summoned.
As I met his eyes, he recoiled a little - and then lowered his eyes.
"So you came at a time like this," he murmured. The corners of his mouth curled up slightly, but the soft words he uttered painted this smile with a touch of bitterness.
What was he thinking of? Why wasn't he happy?
Who am I? Why am I here?
What should I do? What should I say?
I didn't know... My mind was blank. All attempts at thought were in vain.
The only one who could tell me anything seemed to be this man. So I stared at him, unblinking, and waited for him to speak.
"Ha... So I actually summoned a food soul... I suppose that proves that I was not meant to stop here."
His words left me muddled. From that foggy understanding, I could barely pick out a few scattered thoughts - I was a 'food soul,' I was summoned by him. He seemed to have something to do; I could help him with it.
But what did he want to do? And how could I help him?
Perhaps he noticed my doubts, as he beckoned me over. "Come with me. I have some things to discuss with you at length.
With his hands clasped behind his back, he brought me to a spacious boulevard and slowly introduced this city to me as we walked. Listening to his words, I gradually gained an understanding of where we were.
This was the Evil Capital - a country that only sinners could enter.
Money seized from others by unscrupulous means built the avenue beneath our feet and became the high walls lining the streets. Sculpted wooden halls and jade-paved steps - each resplendent piece, from start to finish, was backed by and stained with sin.
And yet, the people here enjoyed these filthy luxuries as if they didn't know any better.
"That is the way people are. I am no exception," he said, smiling like he didn't care. "And is that not terrible?"
"..." Terrible? What did he mean by that? What would be considered not terrible? "I am sorry, Master... I don't understand."
"...you'll understand one day." He closed his eyes and sighed.
II. Tacit Understanding
After that, he spoke about his experiences before coming to the Evil Capital.
He lived in a country where the royalty were witless and the officials were corrupt. Because he wanted to change the status quo, he attended the imperial examinations. But although his personal abilities were outstanding, his family background was not - and he found himself hitting the wall time and time again.
Realizing that he could never reach that high position he so desired through normal means, he finally stepped on the path of sin.
And so he became an official as he'd wanted - yet who would've guessed that he would misstep. Without a strong family background, he became the scapegoat of other high officials and the target of the commoners' anger. Those who had done the same as him donned righteous masks, and with full support of the people, clamored for his exile...
"Ha... This ending was nothing out of the ordinary. But I cannot stop, and I cannot stop here."
The more he spoke, the colder his expression became, and his words took on new weight - as if he were trying to convince someone. "The Evil Capital will give me the chance to make myself anew. What family? What background? My path to heaven is not made of that - the steps under my feet are made from flesh and blood. Only by stepping on their corpses can I reach new heights."
"Corpses..." I could not imagine the person in front of me eviscerating flesh and shattering bone.
"Knowing all this, I still made that step... So you, too, must prepare yourself." As he said this, he suddenly looked at me, a strange light flickering in his eyes. "Since you were summoned by me, you will be my blade, my chess piece. I want you to help me return to the imperial court, to rise from the dust. This time... I will not misstep again."
"I understand." It did not matter. Right now, I could only listen to him.
But had he really thought it through?
The way his eyes suddenly darkened made me suspect he still possessed a trace of doubt. That, and how he intermittently and repeatedly warned me that what he was doing was abnormal.
Why did he need to tell me this much? According to him, I was a blade; I was a chess piece. I did not need to worry about what he was doing or what he wanted to do.
So for him to say all this - what was the point?
"Haha! Good! This song is good!"
"In this whole city, it's still your pipa that's easiest on the ears - Miss Nan?"
After being called twice, I returned to my senses - oh no! The customer was still seated there!
My heartstrings suddenly tensed, and my fingers on the pipa strings followed suit. "...thank you, kind sir, for your support. For you to listen to and appreciate this tune is a great honor to Nan Jin."
The cushion on my seat felt more like a pincushion. Holding my instrument close to myself, I paid my respects to him and focused on my breathing to bring my tumultuous feelings back into order. I put on the smile I had practiced a thousand times and carefully scrutinized him.
This person was very important; I had to keep him happy.
Full of ringing laughter, he swallowed a mouthful of tea, and a light flashed through his eyes. Luckily, it seemed he had not been displeased by my momentary lapse of composure.
The Evil Capital was not a place where you could come and go as you pleased. To enjoy the lavish lifestyle this place afforded, you first had to admit your sins. Once you did that, no other place would accept you.
So what Master Attendant and I had to do was find a way to clear our sins.
In this sprawling city, there must be someone who could find a way to do so - such as the wealthy mogul in front of me. A while ago, I had broached the subject of leaving this place to him; today, he came to the teahouse, face radiant with joy, and asked for me by name. I knew he must've found some prospects.
Reality proved that I had not guessed wrong. He stared at me for a while, and then, smiling, gestured for me to come sit by his side. "Come here, Miss Nan. What you spoke of last time - I have a lead."
"Holy Church..." Master Attendant's face looked troubled; he had been turning those two words over for a long time.
It seemed like he had an impression of them - and not a good one at that. Watching his reaction, I had an inkling of what it might be.
How incredibly difficult it was to leave the Evil Capital. If there was any mishap, if he were caught by them, that would be considered betraying the Evil Capital. That was definitely not allowed.
In this lawless place, anything they could do to him... would not be strange at all.
So if this Holy Church were too dangerous, then we did not have to force ourselves to tread such dangerous ground.
"If Master thinks it unnecessary to involve ourselves in this... We are not pressed for time." I lifted my head to look at him, but all I saw was his exhausted expression.
"I will consider it some more," he said, rubbing the soft skin between his eyebrows. His voice was hoarse and dull. "Rest early tonight... You've worked hard."
A month passed after that.
Everything was the same as before. As usual, I pretended to be a human and continued to gather information in the teahouse, as if I'd never heard of the "Holy Church."
However, I knew the situation was not as peaceful as it seemed on the surface. Master Attendant had finished his consideration; now, he was acting on his plan.
Every time I returned to our dwelling, he was always there - as if he had gone nowhere at all. Today was no exception. But his body always carried with it an unfamiliar medicinal fragrance. Although he deliberately tried to conceal that pungent smell, he could not hide it from me.
I had not been idle these past few days, either. At least, I had acquired some useful clues about the Holy Church. The Holy Church's powers were great; the entire Evil Capital belonged to them. They were researching medicine, and they seemed to be very interested in food souls...
The information I could acquire was as meager as could be, but it was enough for me realize a few things.
Master Attendant was likely meeting someone from the "Holy Church," which is why he brought back this strange fragrance.
Since he was hiding it from me and working alone, there was a good chance that they had made a demand relating to me, right? Such as wanting me in exchange? If it were me, I would definitely trade a food soul for the chance to leave the Evil Capital.
But even if that were the case, he didn't have to hide it from me. He was my Master Attendant. What he said, I would do - I had no means to betray him. If I were him, I would use me without remorse.
I did not know what he was hesitating for. To be honest, I was worried on his behalf.
But even as I worried for him, a strange thought arose in some hidden corner of my heart. What if he didn't want to turn me over?
This possibility excited me.
Seeing my reflection in the bronze mirror on my table, I decided my expression was truly ugly. It left me annoyed - and yet perplexed.
IV. The Same Mistakes
Pushing aside the black curtain of the carriage, I saw Master Attendant already sitting inside. He pulled me into the carriage as well, and as the crisp crack of a horse whip ran out, the wheels began to creak.
Under the cover of night, we would leave the Evil Capital together.
He did not turn me over to the Holy Church.
At first, I did not understand why he would complicate matters so, but later on, I thought it through. He told me that food souls were products of serendipity - they could be encountered through luck, but they could not be sought by force. In other words, having a food soul meant he had another card on the table.
A hidden card. One that would not be traded lightly, if at all.
He must've calculated all this.
But was that the only reason?
"What are you thinking about?" Master Attendant asked suddenly. He didn't turn his head to look at me; in the dim light, his profile was hazy and indistinct.
"I was thinking of why Master didn't hand me over." I repeated what I had just speculated, and he listened quietly until the end.
"You flatter me. It's all because Master taught me well."
He remained silent for a while, looking at me, and his words held within them a smile. "You learned quickly. Many of your skills came from me - including observation and reading the mood. On this subject, I have my own thoughts and considerations that I will not share with you."
"..." This only solidified my suspicion that he was hiding something...
Suddenly, a deafening noise came from the windows. A dazzling light pierced through the window curtains and shone into the carriage. As the carriage driver cried out in shock, the carriage began to lurch and jolt as the horses startled.
I pulled aside the curtain. Of course, I shouldn't have done that - we were sneaking out of the city, after all. What if we exposed ourselves? But the sky full of flames I saw through the window curtains told me clearly that now was not the time to care about that!
"Master!" I hurried to see Master Attendant's response, but his face was pale white and his cold, sweating hand gripped mine so hard it hurt.
"Is there a way?" Conflict was writ large in his black pupils. "Is there anything you can do? Use your power as a food soul!"
Behind us was yet another explosion. This time, even the ground trembled.
The power of food souls... My power... What could I do?
"No... There's nothing...!" I shouted, and without my even noticing it, my voice trembled as well. The sound of my pipa could heal injuries and reduce pain... but there was nothing it could do to quench this all-consuming flame!
I was afraid.
I was afraid! I had yet to understand him. I had yet to learn what he meant by good and evil, his guilt and his dreams. I had yet to comprehend his inner turmoil...
The things he had yet to tell me were too many—
I could not let it all end here! What could I do? I had to think of something.
Should we jump out of the carriage? My heart raced wildly. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a black human-shaped shadow - probably the driver - fall from the front of the carriage. A moment later, the carriage wheels rolled over some soft object.
No... That was too dangerous. If we ended up like the carriage driver—
The runaway horses dragged the carriage along in their mad dash. Explosions sounded, one after another. Our surroundings were swallowed by the blazing inferno; scorchingly hot air wafted from all directions.
At some point in time - I didn't know or care when - the window curtains had been burned half away. As the wind picked them up, I saw a figure standing between us and the sea of flames, watching from a high rampart. I could pick out that the figure was wearing a long robe and holding a pipe.
But that image flashed by before I could see it clearly. Heaven and earth suddenly switched positions - as the horses whinnied wildly, the carriage we were riding flipped over.
As the world whirled about me, I saw some jutting rocks on the ground that threatened to scrape flesh from bone. I wanted to protect Master Attendant, but in fact - he was the one who protected me. The pain I expected never happened.
He... would protect me at this moment?!
A sudden sour itch hit my heart. I wanted to say something, but my thoughts were a mere jumble. Every word I wanted to speak stalled in my throat; nothing made it out.
I didn't have time to organize those shattered words in my head. I only wanted to take him, the man who had used all his power to protect me, and flee from this sea of flames.
"If I had... turned you over... perhaps right now I would be... sitting in some official building... ha. Haha... Without all this fuss...."
"Master, now is not the time to speak!"
"My entire life... pitiful. So it was then... So it is... now...."
"I could not..."
He seemed to say something more, but I did not care to listen.
I do not know how long I ran. Nor did I know where I ran to.
The rumble of that raging firestorm grew fainter and fainter, and so did the sound of breathing on my back—
The soul power I used for healing gradually petered out. A soul that had passed could not return.
Under the weight of my Master Attendant, I could not move another step.
V. Nanjing Roast Duck
Nanjing Roast Duck sat down haltingly; dazed, she stared at her Master Attendant's bloodstained body.
Only then did she have the chance to think about what she'd finally understood. Only then did she see the man in front of her clearly. Only then did she understand what he had once said.
Was this humanity?
He said that one day, Nanjing Roast Duck would understand how terrible humanity was.
Was this what he meant? Was he supposed to be scary?
How was he terrible? Terribly stupid?
Thinking back now, those words about how he had lost his conscience long ago - those were all meant to convince himself! But he actually... in the moment of reckoning, he could not even betray a food soul!
Stupid! If it were her, she would definitely not be this pathetic!
He, a human, protecting a food soul... It was practically ridiculous!
Her Master Attendant had died too suddenly. A symphony of life that should've entered its climactic movement - like a broken pipa string, it had ended with a snap.
He had not yet returned to the imperial court! He had not yet risen from the dust to right his failures! He had not yet trampled on all those who had once looked down upon him—
This was how it ended?
She could not accept this. It shouldn't have been this way!
Vengeance... That was Nanjing Roast Duck's first thought.
She knew full well that was no normal event - nor had it been something her Master Attendant had expected.
Master Attendant had not come to the Evil Capital because he was innocent. All she knew of the world was from him, and even he had often admitted that to the rest of the world, his death was only just. Even if he felt guilt, he had still engaged in crimes against reason and nature.
But what did that matter?
She had only just begun to understand this man. She had not even had the chance to see what his next move would be.
Oh, she did not want to accept this. She was curious about, she was entranced by those intricacies of the human heart - and yet before she could begin to untangle them, they disappeared.
What right did it have to end like this?
Staring at her Master Attendant's pale face, Nanjing Roast duck remembered that figure holding a pipe in the midst of those ruins.
...her intuition told her that the events in the Evil Capital must've started with him.
A few months later—
The carriage jolted, and the driver's apologies came through the window.
"Don't worry, good sir. This road must've been tough for you," Nanjing Roast Duck responded warmly, her voice carrying with it a bit of tiredness.
This journey was not short. Fearing that she might fall asleep, she opened the window let in some fresh air - but when she looked out, she discovered the magnificent city gates were already visible on the horizon.
"It's no problem - hey, look! We're almost at Ye City!" the driver said. "Miss Nan, I still have some things to do, so I can only take you to the city gates. But don't worry, the girl from the store will come to meet you."
"Business has been great. If it weren't for the fact that Old Man Feng is getting on in years and his old bones can't take it anymore, he'd probably never give up the position of store manager."
"Ah... Then it seems like I have a lot to be responsible for. Then I hope all of you will be able to give me more guidance in the future. After all, I can't embarrass the former store manager, can I?" Nanjing Roast Duck said, laughing.
"Don't worry about it! If you need anything, just say it!"
"Oh right, there's a girl in the store named Shengjian. She's very familiar with both Ye City and everything that goes on in our Nanli Print Shop, so if there's anything you're confused about, you can ask her!"
The carriage driver continued to chatter on and on about everything and nothing; Nanjing Roast duck occasionally answered him, but mostly she absently watched the city walls approach closer and closer.
Sweet Sauce Pork Slivers had suddenly invited her to take on an antique store... He'd said it was just because he thought her very suited to this store, and that if she didn't accept, that was fine too.
It was the equivalent of dangling an entire intelligence network in front of Nanjing Roast Duck's face.
What were his motives? She could never understand what was going on underneath that smile of his; all she could be sure of was that he did not have evil intentions.
But with her skills alone, she didn't know what year or decade it would be before she could find a useful lead. So she accepted it. If there was some catch, she would find a way to deal with it; the pros outweighed the cons.
Ah, whatever. This matter could be set aside for a while.
Nanjing Roast Duck held her notebook close to her.
It was a better use of time to wonder... Ye City was so big, and the Nanli Print Shop's business network was so vast...
Where would she begin to find a trace of that pipe?
- 琵琶. a pear-shaped chinese lute.
- 南瑾. her pseudonym is an obvious pun on 'nanjing,' but is written with the character for a brilliant gem instead - a common choice for a girl's name.
- 南离印馆. literally, 'southernly print shop.'
- 京酱肉丝. a ridiculous name to translate. 京 jing refers to its place of origin (beijing), while 酱 jiang refers to the sweet flour paste that it's cooked in.
|This Artifact has not been released yet! More details will be added once it has.|
|Togi Node I - Crit Rate|
|Togi Node II - HP|
|Togi Node III - Attack|
|Togi Node IV - Crit Dmg|
|Togi Node V - Crit Rate|