Don’t Be a Kept Man
After all, the protagonist has to face hardships to level up, so Pei Ran did not stop him.
Instead he only said to him,
“Be careful outside.”
And then grabbed the book he had just been reading to continue reading.
Qu Yan stared down at him from high above, but he could only see his inky black head.
Sang Yan was not willing to move however and stared at Pei Ran,
“When we leave, wouldn’t there only be one man left? You?”
Pei Ran understood what he was trying to say; he was worried about his beautiful girlfriend being forced upon by him.
He flipped a page, not even raising his head to say,
“You could also bring your girlfriend with you.”
A blush flushed all over Zhi Zhi’s face.
Sang Yan’s face became very constipated.
It was full of zombies outside, so how could he bring his girlfriend out with him to venture.
Seeing them not leave, Pei Ran impatiently lifted his eyes and said,
“I’m gay, don’t like women, happy now?”
There was a moment of awkwardness hung in the air, and Sang Yan subconsciously looked over at Qu Yan.
But he only saw Qu Yan’s emotionless face and he couldn’t tell what the other was feeling.
So he scratched his nose, believing Pei Ran about 70-80 percent, and finally took his leave with Zhou Cang Ming and the others.
The moment they left, Pei Ran lifted up his head.
Although Qu Yan was the main character of the book, the goodness in him was, from top to bottom, all the way down to the bones, gone.
In the later half, he killed zombies, levelled up, and collected girls into his harem, his skills out of this world.
When he was at the base that some survivors created in the south, he was even able to make it up to the highest levels of management.
Although his actions were quite like those of normal people, Pei Ran could still clearly remember what was said in the original novel that covered his current situation —-
“This world had not given him one ounce of kindness so Qu Yan did not see humans as his equals.
He used generosity as a cover for himself, but he was like a demon, wandering about the human plane.”
In other words, this main character was actually…….
like the villain.
Then those who tried to use him, hug onto this golden leg, was there really a use to it or none at all?
Pei Ran couldn’t remember the details of the novel, only able to remember the major events no matter how much he tried to recall.
The most memorable was perhaps the elemental skills.
When the apocalypse exploded into existence, when the zombie virus was rampaging through the entire world, when it became the law that those who were stronger lived, humans were also adapting to this new world and evolving.
In the midst of them, some would suddenly come down with a fever, and if they were able to survive it, their bodies would explode with an elemental skill from the inside.
Those who could not survive would turn into zombies.
The known elemental abilities were the electricity, plant, water, fire, ice, metal (gold), wood, mental, and spatial types.
The one with the most attack damage was the electricity type whereas the most mysterious was the mental type.
The one that gave the most safety and comfort was probably the spatial type.
Up until now, Pei Ran had never come down with a fever, so in this sort of life, he probably wouldn’t have an elemental skill of his own.
If he must gamble it all, he probably could only go out and let zombies bite him.
If he was able to persevere, surviving that bite, he would be able to attain a skill, but if he couldn’t, he would become one of the monstrous beings outside.
It was very easy to check if Qu Yan could be used as a golden leg.
He just needed to see if Qu Yan would be willing to share some provisions after he came back today.
If he did, then it meant that he still had some humanity in him and he hadn’t turned all bad yet.
But if he wasn’t……
Then Pei Ran could only keep on starving.
He had a book to read so passing the time was very easy.
But Zhi Zhi and that lone woman were evidently in states of unease.
The two of them were whispering with each other, but only faint sounds would occasionally float over to Pei Ran’s ears.
The lone woman was a sociable person and tried to get more familiar with Zhi Zhi,
“Young lady, how old are you, you look so stylish and fashionable.”
Zhi Zhi awkwardly said,
“You can just call me Zhi Zhi.”
The lone woman kept talking,
“Me, I’m actually just 35 this year.
You can just call me Wang-jie4.
My man died from those monsters outside, leaving me so lonely, alone and helpless, with no one to look after me, unlike you.
Your boyfriend treats you so well, even willing to go out and find food……”
Zhi Zhi could just about get her meaning, and she turned her body away in response.
She looked outside through the window and switched the topic,
“Why are they still not back? They left so long ago.”
They had indeed left a long while ago, about six hours now.
In that time, Pei Ran had already finished the entire book.
He glanced at his watch and then flipped back all the way to the first page, continuing to re-read as if he wasn’t in a rush.
Every second, every minute that ticked, Zhi Zhi’s heart felt like it was being fanned with fire.
She carefully walked over to stand in front of Pei Ran and hesitatingly asked,
“What time is it now?”
Pei Ran glanced over at his wrist,
“5 in the afternoon.”
The worry on Zhi Zhi’s face deepened,
“When did they head out?”
Pei Ran: “9 in the morning.”
Zhi Zhi’s face paled dramatically, as if the air was sucked out of her and she fell onto the floor with a loud noise.
Pei Ran comforted her with no sincerity in his voice,
“There won’t be any issues as there’s Feng Tang.
He retired from the military.”
As if to prove his words, they could suddenly hear the faint sound of a car engine revving up in the distance outside.
Before long, there was a smattering of footsteps coming closer and right after, there was the loud sound of the storage door being opened, evidently signalling the return of Zhou Cang Ming and the rest of the group.
Zhi Zhi ignored the heavy expressions on their faces, pouting her lips and falling into Sang Yan’s arms.
Tears were almost falling out of her eyes as she said,
“Why are you only back now! Scared me to death wu wu wu ……”
Sang Yan tightly hugged onto Zhi Zhi but he didn’t speak.
Each of them were holding a bag, a bag that was filled with provisions that had already been split between them.
Pei Ran lifted his eyes and seeing Qu Yan looking alright, he eased up slightly.
But then he found that something was not quite right—–
There was one person missing from the group.
The delinquent with the mohawk did not come back.
As if sensing Pei Ran’s gaze, Feng Tang walked over and sat in his previous spot, using a cloth to wipe some unknown blood stain on his arm.
With a low and heavy voice, he said,
“We bumped into a zombie hoard and that kid did not run so he was eaten.”
Zhi Zhi’s face paled drastically.
Pei Ran didn’t have a reaction as it was the apocalypse; it was normal for people to die, a lot of people even, and besides, he wasn’t that close to the mohawk.
After the events of today, everyone was starving.
They all sat down in their own spots and began to eat.
The middle aged woman looked left and right, but seeing how no one thought about sharing food with her, her face looked a bit off.
Feng Tang showed no sign of sharing his food either, but thankfully, Pei Ran was not that hungry.
He sat on the floor, folding a paper airplane.
Just as he became quite content, he suddenly felt a weight on his thigh.
He looked down, and someone had put a can of fruit and a bag of cookies there.
Pei Ran’s hand suddenly let go and the paper airplane floated down onto the floor, landing just before Qu Yan.
The latter paused slightly, just as he was about to grab some food.
He grabbed the paper airplane and opened it up, only to find that it was one of the exams from his school bag, the one with full marks.
Facing up to the dark eyes of Qu Yan, Pei Ran shamelessly gave him a thumbs up, smiling happily as he said,
“Your marks aren’t that bad hah.”
And at the same time, he was so emotionally overcome on the inside, crying tears of happiness, thinking that he really did not hug this leg for nothing.
Look, didn’t he just get food and water.
This only made him strengthen his resolve to follow Qu Yan.
Pei Ran did not like cheap food, food that hadn’t been prepared to meet certain standards, but he could still accept fruit from a can.
Yet just as he was about to open one, he suddenly felt a numbness pass over him, as if he had just been electrically shocked.
At the same time as this feeling passed, a cold robotic voice sounded out in his brain, a voice that only made him want to punch the speaker.
[ Ding~ ]
[ Dear host, how are you~ The action that you are about to do is against the rules of this system.
This is the first warning.
The second will be a more serious warning and the third will immediately cost you your life points.
Please treasure your borrowed life that did not come so easily.
[ The Galaxy’s Self-Reliant, Self-Sufficient System has been initiated.
Our bottom line, our rule to follow, is to be self-reliant, self-sufficient, and reject being a kept man.
My dear, the sweetest result is to use the efforts of your own hands and hard work.
Let us strengthen ourselves!!! ]
Pei Ran: ?!?
Well… hello! Nice to see all of you Galactic Judges again haha.
It has been a while, hasn’t it? I truly, honestly did not expect to be taking so long to release the next chapter, but here we are… Some good news on that front, my “situation” is as much as settled as it can be (at least from my side), which unfortunately with the pandemic and just bureaucracy in general, even funeral arrangements and things afterwards took a lot of waiting and that, combined with the emotions, it took a lot of energy to… restart.
Still, life continues, the time keeps ticking away and sometimes you just have to keep going.
Anyway, the good news is that we will be settling back into a normal schedule!!! The only caveat about this is that it will probably come November (as Plum is going on an adventure haha so have fun Plum ₍՞◌′ᵕ‵ू◌₎♡), but hopefully by then we will have a few chapters ready in the bag (doubtful but one can dream…).
That’s about it from me! My plan is to hopefully release another chapter before Plum heads off on their wild adventure; however there are currently a few logistic problems with that, so… we will have to see.
In any case, we will see you all either in October or November! Stay safe and be well ♡(.◜ω◝.)♡ See you soon!
*1 << To Live >> is a novel by Yu Hua; for more info, please see the next footnote.
*2 This is a quote from the author’s preface of “To Live” (Chinese version).
The author had written different prefaces for different languages, so this gave me quite a bit of extra leg work lol (and a little bit of the reason why the release of this chapter got pushed back a bit).
The quote itself is really much more poignant and kind of like an overall encompassing ending sentence of the author’s feelings after finishing the novel, so how I translated it might be lacking a bit of that feeling (…like all my attempts at literary poetry here haha).
On a very brief note on what the novel is about, I’ll just stick the summary from the back of the English version haha:
“After squandering his family’s fortune in gambling dens and brothels, the young, deeply penitent Fugui settles down to do the honest work of a farm.
Forced by the Nationalist Army to leave behind his family, he witnesses the horrors and privations of the Civil War, only to return years later to face a string of hardships brought on by the ravages of the Cultural Revolution.
Left with an ox as the companion of his final years, Fugui stands as a model of flinty authenticity, buoyed by his appreciation for life–sheer life– in this unforgettable narrative of humbling power.”
I’ll quote a bit from Michael Barry, the one who translated Yu Hua’s novel, afterword in the English version which I think really puts into perspective what this line that this footnote is referring to meant (combined with the phrase of survival afterwards):
“Having grown up near hospitals and operating rooms during modern China’s most vicious and chaotic period, Yu Hua has created a fictional reflection of this reality, a world imbued with violence, death and unspeakable cruelty.
At the same time, his world is touched by moments of poetic brilliance, a passion for life and sublime beauty – a world where moonlight on a dirt path creates the “illusion that a layer of salt had been sprinkled along it.””
There’s also a really neat phrase that Michael Barry wrote, which I totally forgot to quote (＠´＿｀＠), but it was something like survival is an end for itself, that it can be a conclusion, and I think that gets to the heart of this line that the author (of this volume) highlights to put here.
This novel is not a light read, highlighting a lot of violence, cruelty and death and honestly, just flip to any page, you would definitely read anything of the three.
But… maybe similar to the genre of tragedy (relating to history or otherwise), there is a feeling of catharsis, and also this feeling that survival is a reward, an end to itself, especially given all the impossibility to think you could even survive whatever happened, that you could still keep living with a heart in humanity.
I definitely would recommend taking a chance to read this novel by Yu Hua (I think there’s a small sample on google books) if you can withstand the immense amount of violence and cruelty (or even just how heavy of a read this could be).
Honestly just thinking back to this book just drenches me with this mood of… heaviness? but I think it’s definitely worthwhile to take a look if you are interested.
But also definitely be prepared for the emotional onslaught.
I’ll leave two final quotes here, one from the English translation of the preface (but called the postscript in the English version) that sort of captures a little bit of that feeling that I think relates to how Qu Yan sees Pei Ran (might just be me though lol), and one that I think captures the tone of the novel by Yu Hua.
I think both of them kind of add a bit to maybe the reasoning of why the author added this line/mention of the book (or even kind of setting that tone):
“I once heard an American folk song entitled ‘Old Black Joe.’ The song was about an elderly black slave who experienced a life’s worth of hardships, including the passing of his entire family – yet he still looked upon the world with eyes of kindness, offering not the slightest complaint.
After being so deeply moved by this song I decided to write my next novel – that novel was To Live.”
“Using laughter to cry, living beside the company of death” – Yu Hua.
*3 Technically it’s something like “elegant-small-butterfly”, but it really represents the sound of the Japanese phrase “yamete”/stop it(?).
*4 Please refer back to this footnote for -jie
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