Fangirling Chinese Novels

Stewed Squid with Honey (蜜汁炖鱿鱼) — Chapter 2



Nowadays, I really don’t get around in the translation community, so I only just learned of the other translation of Squid. Thank you to all who kindly pointed it out to me. Both Tears and I have chapters already translated in draft, so as to not waste either person’s hard work, we will be translating in parallel for the next little while. As every translator has his or her own style, feel free to check out Tear’s translation on her blog, too. Hope you guys like the novel. 🙂

Mid-week update as promised. Where there’s a will, there’s a way… especially if you rope your BFF into helping you pursue a guy.

Chapter 2 – eSportsο)!

After a full week, Tong Nian’s spirits had already sunk into the deep, deep, deep sea.

Adding him in WeChat had been useless. Whether she sent “thoughtful greetings,” “weather forecasts,” “promotional news,” or even the “enticement of another prize,” the other end gave absolutely no response.

He must have put her on his blocked list already…


Lying on her belly on the bed, she numbly forwarded the ads for the “Animes and Mangas Carnival” as well as “Winter Anime Expo” and “Winter Gaming Convention” that she would be attending. Beneath each of these posts in her Weibo[1] were the excited comments left by fans. As someone who had an overly fragile, glass-like heart such that her mood was very easily affected by remarks left on the Internet, she was terribly afraid of interacting with netizens. Consequently, her Weibo was basically to forward information about events, release her songs, and enable commercial collaborations.

It was only when Soy Milk called for the seventh time that she at last listlessly picked up the phone. “Hello?”

“Little Squidie.” The voice on the other end of the line was very low, with a purposely put-on air of mystery. “I have a way to find that person.”


She instantly sat up, nearly kicking her laptop off the bed.

“Really. I found an expert to help me extract from the host computer a screen shot of his from that day! I asked my buddy to help me identify it just now, and he said it’s God, the latest team battle game.”

“I know…” She told him disappointedly, “I saw it that day, and I even deliberately found someone and asked about it, too.”

“You, the gaming idiot, would just ask so superficially. How could you possibly get good info?” Soy Milk grinned and lowered his voice a little more. “I can tell you what server he’s on and his ID.”


“Guaranteed there’s nothing fake about it! I even managed to borrow a high-ranking ID for you. That way, you can run into him in ranked matches.”

“… Ranked wha?”

“Ranked matches!” Soy Milk had actually only just did the cramming on this stuff himself, but in front of her, he had a feeling of superiority. “I’m not going to talk to you, the noob, about it anymore. After I’ve solved everything for you, I’ll come back to this and teach you.”


And so, that evening, Soy Milk personally made a trip to her home. After greeting Auntie and Uncle[2] and freeloading a few bites of mapo tofu from the kitchen on the first floor, he sidled into her bedroom on the second floor. The two had grown up together since childhood, and her family members did not think anything of this action. In fact, when they thought about it, this address of “Auntie” had simply come naturally, without thinking, but if they traced back, there was not actually any sort blood relation between them. For all they knew, the two truly would become a couple, and then they would not even have to worry…


麻婆豆腐. Mapo tofu is a Sichuanese dish. While nowadays, there are many variations, this dish generally consists of tofu, ground pork (usually) and the Sichuan peppercorn, giving it the characteristic numbing spiciness. (Image credit)

“Ah…” Inside the bedroom, Tong Nian impatiently watched the downloading progress bar. It was going to be done soon. “So, this game is played five people to a team, two teams battling one another?”

“Pretty much. Have you heard of LOL [League of Legends] and DotA [Defense of the Ancients]?”

“Uh-huh. ‘Lu A’Lu’ [‘stroke, ah, stroke’].” Yeah, she had heard of it. It was just that she had always thought that this nickname for LOL was rather indecent[3]. But here in front of her “last-minute teacher,” she still nodded her head in an innocent fashion. “In the anime expos I participated in, they also had a booth. DotA… It seems its popularity was several years back. When I was in high school, the boys in my class would often go play it. People still play it nowadays?”

She was that out-of-date?

“Yeah. DotA released a sequel, number 2, already. Right now, it’s the hottest game in eSports. The prize money is also the highest.”

“eSports?” 0.0

“Electronic sports. It’s, ah… video game competitions that you play on the computer…” Soy Milk used the plainest, simplest words to explain it to her.

“Online games? Sword 3 Online[4]? Fantasy Westward Journey[5]?” 0.0

“No… Those online games are ones that you spend time to level-up. They’re long-term games, where the leveling process is actually cumulative every time you play… eSports, eSports…”

“It’s fine. Explain it to me sometime later.”


Inside the computer, God had already completed downloading.

She had absolutely no interest in listening to Soy Milk continue to explain. It’s no problem. Once the man and I get to know each other, I’ll just ask him to explain it all to me… Why is my heart feeling all tingly?…

She could not refrain from bowing her head. Only after burying her face in her arm and rubbing it fiercely there was she finally able to make herself act a bit more normal.

Right then, Soy Milk, with a manner of all seriousness, had already pulled out a slip of paper from his pocket. Copied down on it was a game username and password. Tong Nian took it from him and carefully set it on her desk. One letter at a time, she typed in the username and password and then logged in.

A dim sound of a sword being unsheathed sounded out.

Login successful.

Then, a window with a vast server select list of more than twenty different server names…

“Um… Next is the server. We need to select a server.” Soy Milk fished out another piece of paper from his pocket. Written on it was the server name and user ID that had been found on the video left by the man that day. “Legend of Guevara, grunt.”

“grunt?” she repeated to herself. “It sounds so nice!”

No wonder his WeChat name was “Gn.”

It was right. It was definitely him!


“… Why don’t I think so? When you read it, it sounds just like ‘gun te’ [滚特 get lost!]. Don’t you think it sounds like you’re yelling at someone?”

Hmph! She tossed a glare at Soy Milk.

Then, Soy Milk opened up his third “embroidered pouch” of instructions[6]. Inside were the detailed explanations the other party had given him this afternoon on how to participate in a ranked match, how to invite a specific ID to play, how to enter the game arena, how to select the character you wanted to control, how to… The two felt like their brains were muddled. Despite seriously and carefully reading everything over, they still felt as if they were in a fog.

“Forget it. Just invite him first…”

It should be fine after playing a couple of times, right? Practice made perfect…

And so, after looking it up on a system search, they soon found the names that started with the letter G. Row after row, they read down… Suddenly, they both gave a sharp inhale. grunt was online!

What was going on with her heart, pounding away like that?…

What was going on with her fingers, trembling away like that?…

She was shaking. Right-click. Send… invitation.


Endless waiting.

All of a sudden, a dialogue box popped up.

Her heart thudded another couple of times as she clicked it open.

System message: The other party is currently in a match. Please wait patiently.


“Freaked me out…” She blew out a breath and rubbed her own chest. “I thought he wanted to talk to me…”

Soy Milk wore an expression that said, “You’re worrying about nothing,” but he could not bring himself to make a jab at her.

In the end, they waited for a full thirty minutes before the system finally showed another prompt with the row of words,

The other party’s match has ended. Please wait patiently for the player’s reply.

As she faced this so-called “other party,” it seemed she dared not even breathe a little louder until the system truly had prompted,

grunt has accepted your invitation. Please wait patiently while the system randomly selects 8 players.

“He accepted! Accepted!”

“Uh-huh… Uh-huh… Don’t be anxious. In just a bit, when we go in, you need to be calm and say hello, understand?”

“Uh-huh… Uh-huh…” She did not concern herself with Soy Milk’s cheeky tone and only stared fixatedly at the screen.

She did not even know what sort of character she had selected and merely dazedly entered the game.


Such pretty game graphics.

Tonight happened to be Christmas Eve, so there was a specially-created scene of falling snow.

Tong Nian could not be bothered with admiring the exquisite 3-D graphics. The instant she entered, she began searching for his name on the screen. Huh? How come he wasn’t there? There clearly had been ten people who joined the game, but on the screen before her eyes, there were only five characters.

And that included herself… Five people.

“Oh shoot! He selected the opponent camp.” Soy Milk was depressed. “You won’t be able to see him unless you call for him in the all-chat screen or actually run into him; then you’ll be able to see him.”

“Huh?” Tong Nian was puzzled. “Why do I need to run into him? Can’t I just go find him?”

“… That would work, I guess? Even though he’s the enemy, you can just go say hi. Friendship first, competition second.”


And so… a few seconds later…

The remaining nine people saw that, inside the game, an ID who had not bought a single item or equipment came running, one step at a time, in a ridiculous frenzy out of his base. Following the map display he… skipped and bounced in the direction of the enemy camp.

From the looks of it… that person was even pretty happy.


* * * * *


grunt did not even lift a brow. Showing no mercy, with two slashes, he killed that person who was merrily waving his arms while jumping up and down… and saying nonstop, “Hi!”

He even sent emojis? Was this some nutjob?


“That dude…” 97’s eyes were fixed on his own computer screen. “His account’s been hacked?”

“… I guess so.” Another person watched incredulously as well as grunt killed off this opponent, who had been absolutely powerless to even resist, and drew the first blood. “Real points are involved in ranked matches. The people on his team are going to be ridiculously frustrated. As this game is played out, their point loss definitely is not going to be insignificant.”

“… How deep would the hatred have to be to specifically hack an ID and then specifically invite grunt, just to have him kill you?”

But as for grunt, who was doing the killing, he felt very disgruntled. Shoving his glasses up with his index finger, he put on an insincere smile and called a flunky buddy over. “Here. You play a match for me.” He did not want to waste his time on a hacker.


After he finished saying this, he stood up in front of his computer and stretched. “Where’s Leader?”

“Catching up on sleep. He just got back from watching a tournament in Chicago and is still adjusting to the time zone difference.”

97 gave a suggestive grin and added, “Oh, by the way, the other day, I heard his WeChat alert ringing. I thought he never uses WeChat to chat with people? He’s dating someone?”

“No. A cybercafé added him and keeps sending him ads. I said I’d help him block it, but he felt that would be a blow to someone’s motivation for sales and marketing and wouldn’t let me do it. He just had me set it to silent. Anyway, even if they send stuff, he won’t look at it.”

grunt was rather surprised. “When did Leader become so kind-hearted?”

“He suddenly found his conscience, I guess,” 97 answered offhandedly.

Everyone was at a loss for words.

Gun, that demon overlord, had a thing called a “conscience”?


[1] 微博. This literally means “microblog.” Weibo is often compared to Twitter, but with other features such as the ability to comment beneath posts in long thread. The biggest microblogging service in China is offered by Sina, and its full name is actually Sina Weibo, although due to its popularity, “Weibo” usually directly refers to Sina Weibo

[2] 表姑妈 “biao gu ma” is how you would address your father’s female cousin (which in English is still simply “aunt”) and 表姑父 “biao gu fu” is how you would address the husband of your father’s female cousin (which in English is still simply “uncle”). These are what Soy Milk calls Tong Nian’s mother and father. However, Soy Milk and Tong Nian are not related and have just been close friends since childhood. Somehow, along the way, these particular addresses of “aunt” and “uncle” just came about.

[3] 撸啊撸 “Lu A Lu.” This is the nickname given for LOL, partly due to its similar pronunciation to the English letters, LOL. However, its meaning of “stroke, ah, stroke” also implies masturbation (i.e. a hand job).

[4] 剑三 or “Sword 3 Online” is short for《新剑侠情缘叁Online》New Jian Xia Qing Yuan 3 Online. A popular MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) with an ancient setting. A drama of the same Chinese name and based on the game was filmed a few years ago and called “The Legend of Swordman” or “Sword Heroes Fate.” Sword 3 Online is unlike DotA or LOL in that it is a MMORPG while the latter two are MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena).

[5] 梦幻西游 “Meng Huan Xi You.” Fantasy Westward Journey is a very popular MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) based on the novel, Journey to the West. Fantasy Westward Journey is unlike DotA or LOL in that it is a MMORPG while the latter two are MOBA (multi-player online battle arena).

[6] 锦囊 “jin nang.” The embroidered pouch of instructions is a trope used in ancient and/or wuxia stories/dramas where someone very wise or powerful places written instructions or advice into an embroidered drawstring pouch and tells the character not to open it to read what is inside until the crucial moment. The embroidered pouch has hence become synonymous with wise advice or instructions.


1 of 1 Prologue
2 of 49 Chapters
0 of 1 Epilogue

≪ Previous Chapter | Index | Next Chapter ≫

29 thoughts on “Stewed Squid with Honey (蜜汁炖鱿鱼) — Chapter 2

  1. hoju, what happen with the chapter 4 of final chapter together forever? why it gone?

    • LOL. Didn’t you notice it was not the usual posting time? I was trying to catch up on translating so I was editing late at night. I was so tired I must have pushed “post” instead of “save.” Post will be up at its usual time today, after I’m done all the edits.

      • well, i’ve already read it though. kekekeke, i’ll just read it again. i thought you just want t spoiling us reader by posting two chapters a day ^_^

        • Haha, while it’s not likely, it’s not impossible either. But I wouldn’t just sneak it up without making a mention that it’s not a normal posting.

  2. I love the plot already! Thank you!

  3. poor TN, your will was not fulfilled

  4. “…I only just learned of the other translation of Squid. Thank you to all who kindly pointed it out to me…”

    They weren’t all as kind as they could/should have been. You shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for starting this project, especially considering–
    Sigh. I really, truly appreciate the hard work of all translators. But I’ll be honest, as a reader, and say that story-updates that are less frequent than once per month, are painful. (Actually, waiting even a week for a new installment is painful. Having to wait a month+ is… something more.) The wait is painful, the dwindling hope that a new chapter might get published soon, the increasing dreaded expectancy that the translator has abandoned the project when you see that more than a couple of months have passed without an update. I really don’t want to come off sounding ungrateful; I appreciate the time and effort that fan-translators put into their work, without expecting any gain other than being part of a community and sharing stories and making people happy. Nevertheless, as a reader I feel (have been made to realize since I’ve discovered the C-novel community) that starting a story and being left in the lurch after I’ve already grown attached to the characters is worse than never having started that story at all. Nowadays, I don’t want to follow live updates anymore, because there are only very few translators that I trust to keep up the updates until completing the project.
    Thank you, hoju, sincerely and deeply, for being such a kind, reliable translator. And thank you for picking up “Stewed Squid”. I’ll wait a bit because I have a feeling this story will be too cute for words (and addictive), but because you picked up this novel–I’ll be following it live.

    • Long time no see, Adnana. 🙂 Thank you for being so kind. I believe everyone was just trying to be helpful.

      Out of the characters of the various novels I’ve translated, personality-wise, I’m most similar to Zhousheng Chen. I like — and thrive on — routine, so I need things regular and scheduled. Hence, I have a regular posting time (down to the hour :P) because it keeps me in a rhythm, gives me a sense of commitment, and, for my readers, hopefully creates predictability. But this is largely a result of my personality. We are all so different and what works well for me may not work well for another translator. Having followed one novel live and nearly died waiting for each update, I feel your pain and learned that the best way for me to cope was to wait until a novel was complete before reading it. It seems you’ve found your coping mechanism, too. I’m glad my posting style works with you.

      Thank you for your encouragement. Hope you enjoy the ride as you come along with gun and Tong Nian. It is a fun story. 🙂

  5. Haha!! Her noob ways are so endearing (even as I cringe at the terrible first impression she’s giving) Thank you for the chapter!!

    • I LOL when I imagine how her character in the video game must have bounced over and then, grunt just hacks her to death. Hahaha. You’re welcome!

  6. Hoju, I started reading this out of curiosity since this is a lighter story than together forever and I also want to see whether or not I will have a hard time following anything related to the online games as I never play any online game. Anyhow, I’m already kind of confused. hehehe… So the male lead is Gun, but the online game ID that Tong Nian’s BFF finds “Grunt” is actually not his ID? Or it is his ID but it’s being played by Gun’s friends instead? Thank you for your translation!

    • This is definitely light and doesn’t require to get too emotionally involved. Actually, the gaming side of this doesn’t play too big a role in the story. There will be much more 3-D world interaction following.

      I see you already figured out the whole grunt/Gun thing… poor girl. How could she have known?

      You’re welcome!

  7. Thank you so much for starting this translation, I love your style. Especially your simply wonderful footnotes. I can not thank you enough for them, SO useful!

  8. Thank you….you are so kind for sharing this

  9. I’m enjoying this already. Lol!! She only didn’t get killed off but also added the wrong person hahaha!

    BTW I’ve tried some MOBA games, but I’m always slacking and end up.getting kicked out of group LOL!! Since groups are needed when on needs reinforcement during battles.

    • LOL. My gaming knowledge was almost zero prior to translating this novel and all I “know” now is based on watching YouTube videos and strategy guides. I’ll just take your word for it.

  10. Lol that was hilarious.
    Thanks a lot, hoju~

  11. Oh im so much like them gaming idiot i cant stop smilling

  12. I have a soft spot for gaming novels because of King’s Avatar…that novel, while very straightforward, some might even say bland, in plot, is very detailed and real about gaming and the arts of subtle gaming techniques. As a non-gamer, that story really gave me a love for gaming (w/o the hands-on experience, lol).

    • Thankfully, there isn’t much for detailed gaming parts in this one. As someone who doesn’t game, I was reading on tons of gaming forums, sites, etc and hounding my brother who does game, just to get he occasional germ or concept written correctly. Lol

  13. I literally laughed out loud at the mental picture of her game character bouncing into enemy camp waving and saying Hi. I’ve never played an online game, but I watched a documentary on Netflix about eSports; kind of interesting how sponsors work and all that.

    • LOL. The scene a few chapters later where she learns how to use some “abilities” in the game is even more hilarious!

      I’ve never played but my brother is a gamer and watches tournaments online. It is fascinating.

  14. 💓💗💖💟 this. I busted out laughing at her self introduction! I give the girl credit for trying to meet her “love at first sight” crush! Thanks Hoju for the beautiful translations!

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