Memrie Chang woke up in a good mood today.
As she rolled out of bed, she turned to look at her husband who was still asleep.
After a brief moment, she headed to the bathroom to brush her teeth, after which, she headed downstairs to the kitchen, where she began to make breakfast for her family of three.
“Hm. It seems were running low on some things. I’ll have Kaner go to the store to pick them up for me.”
Not knowing why she said this out loud, she started to think about that oddball son of hers.
Ever since he was a small child, he behaved very strangely. Whenever he was home, he would be tied to her hip, following her around causing all sorts of hilarious situations to occur, but when he was outside, he was quiet and reserved.
At this point, he was a fully developed man-child. He would convey his intentions using a very strange vocabulary. If he wanted to make a sandwich, he would be utilising his ‘Five Layers Agglomeration technique’, which meant two slices of bread and whatever filling he wanted to add.
Initially, she would always confront him on his strange manner of speech but after a while, she got used to it and even adopted some of his phrases into her own vocabulary. She found it to be a splash of fun added to otherwise ordinary activities.
“Greetings Matriarch Chang.”
It was her husband who had woken up while she was making breakfast.
“Good morning Patriarch Chang. Breakfast is almost ready, you can have a seat, I’ll go and get the young master.”
The two both laughed.
Kaner’s oddness was rubbing off on them.
This situation was a stark contrast to the way her husband would have behaved a few years ago. He was vehemently opposed to Kaner’s mannerisms, he felt that it was dangerous to indulge him, so he never spoke like this when Kaner was present, but the truth was, he too found it fun.
After walking up the stairs and entering Kaner’s room without knocking, as usual, she proceeded to call out to him.
“HEY KANER! WAKE UP! IT’S TIME FOR BREAKFAST. GET UP NOW! I WON’T SAY IT AGAIN!”
After loudly saying this, she watched as her son rolled over in his bed and proceed to press her stomach with his finger.
“Do you have to do this every day?”
This was a common scenario. She had tried the soft approach, but Kaner was a heavy sleeper. Even gently nudging him had no effect, so she decided to use a loud voice. What else could she do? She didn’t want to have to deal with a bed covered in water.
“How would I switch off the alarm otherwise?”
She was annoyed. Since when did she become her son’s personal alarm clock? Wasn’t she the mother? What kind of scenario was this?
“How many times do I have to tell you that I’m not an alarm? Sigh. What am I going to do with you?”
She tried to display a stern expression, but she found this situation humorous, so she was having difficulty suppressing a smile.
“This was the seventy-third time. I feel like we’re getting close. When it reaches ninety-nine something special may happen. Let’s do our best.”
She watched as her son gave her a thumbs up and had that same mischievous smile on his face.
She was about to give him another slap when he quickly prostrated himself before her and apologised.
“I’m sorry Mother, I have been an unfilial son.”
“Sigh. Whatever. Breakfast is ready, so brush your teeth and join your father and me.”
She said while grumbling and wondering why she had such a son. After taking another look at her son who was rubbing his head, she closed the door. She slowly walked down the hallway towards the stairs while thinking of how this would occur daily.
As she walked down the stairs, she revealed a gentle smile and proceeded toward the dining room.
Truth be told, she quite enjoyed this strange personality of her son’s. It brought a lot of fun into the house and she felt slightly guilty that she was unable to give him any siblings to play with. This is why she indulged in his nonsense.
It also helped that he understood that there was a time and place for these things and didn’t cause her embarrassment in public.
As she entered the dining room, her husband asked.
“Haha. Same as always.”
Her husband also knew how the morning routine went.
After a while, they could hear footsteps coming down the stairs. A moment later, Kaner turned the corner into the dining room.
“Good morning son.”
Her husband said while seated at the dining table. Their son showed no response for a short while, before looking at them one at a time, with an odd look on his face. He then cupped his fist and said:
“Paying respect to Mother! Hey Dad, what’s up?”
“This. Why do I feel like your mother’s greeting was sincerer?”
Her husband looked towards her, and she gave him a triumphant smile.
“And why do you call me Dad, but you refer to your mother as Mother?”
“Dad, you must understand. Seniority is based on ability, not on age. I have recognised Mother’s mastery over martial arts and while you do have a domineering presence, it is nothing in the face of Mother’s martial prowess. Need I remind you of the Flying Slipper Slaying Dragon incident of three years ago?”
‘Eh? Why are you mentioning that? We agreed to drop it!’
Memrie was flustered due to her son’s last sentence.
“Oh? You think because your mother can subdue me, it makes me weak?”
Still flustered, she quickly interjected.
“Enough! I thought we agreed not to bring that up again.”
She said with an embarrassed look on her face. She was deeply ashamed of the incident because she had lost control and ended up breaking the television when she threw a slipper at her husband, who had jumped to the side to avoid it. When her son witnessed this, he lost some respect for his father and started to call him ‘Dad’.
After hearing her words, both father and son sat down, looking down at the table with timid expressions. Seeing this, she took a breath to calm herself before serving the meals.
After serving the meals, she joined the two at the table, and they all offered thanks for their meal.
“You really want to continue like this for two years, son?”
Her husband said this to their son. She was slightly angered at the tone in which he said this. It had long since been agreed that their son would attend University, then be able to do as he pleased for two years.
Her husband kept trying to push him to get a job, but he clearly wasn’t ready for this yet.
This especially touched a nerve in her, because she was reminded of the days she would pick her son up from school and see his soulless eyes, that were as if he was forced away from what he loved, the very essence of his life drained from him. It got to the point that she decided to pull him from school and teach him herself.
Now, this had both advantages and disadvantages.
Kaner was far more proficient at household chores than other boys his age, and she took some pride in this. She had carefully taught him and supervised his learning, and she was confident that he could take care of himself without issues.
His education also went extremely well. He always scored well on his academic assessments, which gratified her and reassured her that her decision was the correct one.
The only thing was, his strange behaviour became even more pronounced. At some point, he had come to view her as a martial arts master. She had no idea where this came from, but she ran with it to get him to stop begging her to accept him as her disciple. It was a very strange situation.
Thinking back, it may have all started when she was teaching her son how to tie shoelaces. She had told him that it was a secret family technique passed down through the generations. He came up with the name ‘Carp Leaps Through Dragon Gate’ on his own.
“Well that was the condition of our soul pact, so I don’t think it would be beneficial to anyone if we were to change things now.”
‘That’s right son.’
After hearing her son say this, she couldn’t help but nod in agreement. It was only proper for one to follow through with one’s promises.
“Sigh. I thought you would have grown up a little after going to university and broadening your horizons.”
‘That’s also true.’
She also agreed with this statement. After all these years, she could only hope that her son became somewhat normal.
“Why are you so inclined to the mundane, Dad? Can’t you see that I’m living the pinnacle existence? I am able to hone myself daily and study under an expert of Mother’s calibre. This is something you can only stumble upon and can’t search for.”
‘Eh? This… The way you say it is a little much don’t you think?’
“But your ‘pinnacle existence’ is based on my mundanity.”
‘Mm. That is also true.’
“This. Sigh. You’re right, Dad. And I understand this. I only ask for two years. Just two years and I’ll join the mundane world. Please just allow me this much.”
Her husband was speechless, and she too was unable to say a word. She was reminded of the past, and as a result, her face showed her sadness.
“What I say is true, but it is also important to keep your commitments. Two years is what we agreed, so two years is what you shall have.”
“Hahaha! Your will is weak, Dad. You succumbed to my Kitten Tames Tiger technique. This is why you will never match up to mother.”
The three started laughing, but Memrie was still remembering things that happened long ago. After a moment, she pulled herself together.
“So, what are you going to do now?”
Her husband asked their son, to which she chimed in:
“Let me guess, you are going to head to the cultivation hall to study ancient Chinese texts?”
As his mother, Memrie was extremely familiar with Kaner’s habits. He would spend most of his time reading.
“Cultivation hall? Ancient Chinese texts? You mean going on his phone to read those web novels? What was it, Narakuto?”
“That’s a manga and it’s called Naru- never mind. This is another reason why your martial arts stagnate dad. I can’t believe you aren’t able to see through such a simple illusion formation. Mother was able to peer into the truth the first time and you still see me ‘going on my phone to read web novels’, truly embarrassing.”
Her husband was annoyed at their son’s derisive tone but in the end, he could say nothing.
“Anyway, once again Mother, your foresight has left me speechless. I will indeed be heading to the cultivation hall as I have had some insights today that I would like to corroborate with the ancient teachings.”
“That’s fine but I’ll need you to go into the grey later today to pick up a few things from the store.”
“Y-yes mother. I was just thinking I needed to practice my Beseech the Heavens mantra.”
Seeing this reaction, Memrie felt pained. If she had it her way, her son would never have to leave the house, but she knew that it would do him more harm than good to indulge him to such an extent.
“Enter the grey? Beseech the Heavens? What’re those?”
“Still unfamiliar with the language of the upper realm? Tsk-tsk. To ‘enter the grey’ is to go outside and to ‘Beseech the Heavens’ is to pray for guidance. I say ‘enter the grey’ because it is a literal description and ‘Beseech the Heavens’ sounds cooler than ‘Pray for Guidance’ doesn’t it?”
‘Eh? Does that mean I speak the language of the upper realm? When did I learn that?’
Her husband was left speechless and turned to look at her, to which she responded with a smile while nodding her head.
“Hm, I see. Yes, I see it now.”
This was her husband’s go-to response when things became too much for him.
“Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to consult with the elders. I’ll be taking my leave Mother. Later Dad.”
After their son took his leave, her husband turned to look to her and said:
“Shouldn’t we put a stop to this?”
“My, whatever are you referring to dear?”
“Don’t dear me. His behaviour. Isn’t it getting out of hand?”
“Oh? If I recall correctly, your mother had told me many stories of how you behaved in a similar way when you were younger.”
She said this with a mischievous smile, to which her husband responded:
“This… First of all, I wasn’t that bad. And secondly, my mother never pulled me out of school. She just threw me in there and I had to deal with it.”
“But maybe, that’s because your mother had a job. Our situation is different. Besides, it’s not like our boy is inept. I’ll have you know, he is extremely capable.”
“Sigh. So you’re saying I brought this upon myself? The reason I worked hard was so you wouldn’t have to and this is how it turns out.”
“And we appreciate your effort, Patriarch Chang. But don’t forget that I also had good career prospects. Do you think I grew up wanting to be a stay at home wife?”
She said this with her eyebrows twitching. The truth is, she had just as good, if not better career prospects than her husband, but he had asked her to stay home to look after their son.
He argued that he was already making plenty of money for the family, and even reassured her that everything would be ok by generating multiple unrelated streams of income. It was now at the point that even if he were to stop working, money would still be coming in.
She was unwilling at first, but she decided that her child was more important than her work. After all these years of personally teaching their child, she didn’t like hearing that it was a mistake.
“Ah! Y-You’re right. I’m lucky to have such a martial arts master as my wife. Please pardon my negligence, Matriarch Chang.”
The two of them started laughing. She could see a lot of her son, in the way her husband was apologising.
‘I guess this is where he got it from.’
She recalled how her husband had always given her exaggerated apologies and paralleled it with her son’s apology from earlier.
“But still. He will have to grow up eventually. I just hope that we won’t regret this.”
“I’m aware of your concerns, but worry not, for I have divined it! Our boy will be ok.”
“You divined it? So your prayers have been answered?”
“Well that’s the gist of it”
“Sigh. Well, we’ll see.”
With that breakfast was over, and the two went to do their own things.
When it was time, Memrie headed back upstairs to her son’s bedroom and as usual, entered without knocking.
She saw her son who seemed to be reading something interesting. He seemed to be completely immersed in his reading, and in her usual way, she approached him and ruthlessly interrupted.
“Kaner, it’s time to begin the mission I briefed you on earlier. You will find the objective under the footbed of your left shoe. Make sure you aren’t detected by the outsiders.”
She saw her son be jolted in surprise. He exclaimed:
“Mother, you really do need to knock. Your stealth technique is way too profound!”
‘Profound stealth technique? I just walked in normally. Is it my fault that you lose yourself when you concentrate on something?’
“That is a lack of training on your part. You mustn’t place all of your focus on one task, lest you suffer a sneak attack.”
“Hm. I shall contemplate on this wisdom.”
Seeing her son taking her words to heart, brought her a small sense of comfort. He really did get too wrapped up in things. It was bad to be unaware of your surroundings especially outside, where things could go terribly wrong.
“Mm, but you must proceed post haste. My Onion Severing technique is nearing a breakthrough and I need other medicinal herbs to create an addition to my Dinner Forging manual.”
She was going to need some ingredients soon, so she needed to get him on his way.
“Gulp. D-Dinner Forging manual? You mean a new secret recipe?”
“That’s right, but I can’t say any more. You will find the details in your shoe.”
“Say no more Mother. I shall complete this objective with due diligence or may truck-kun strike me down!”
As she watched her son leave the room, she thought to herself:
‘Mm? Truck-kun? That’s a little much… Where did he get that from?’