Author: Chai Jidan
Translator: slyCoCo, Renkun27
Chen Youzai perceived a piercing pain in his heart and his lungs seemed to have split open. He felt like he would die from the next attack, but he had no place to hide. He wished he could paw the ground to conceal himself, but he already used up a lot of effort just to stand up. Ultimately, everything has ceased to exist, all hope completely shattered. At this rate, within ten days, if he would not starve to death, he would surely be beaten to death. Chen Youzai wanted to cry but he had no tears nor voice. He smelled something sweet and fishy, and then saw clearly that his lower body collapsed in a pool of watery blood. He immediately refused to let this 17 years of plain life to end in the middle of this desolated land.
“Thinking about dying? It won’t be that easy!”
Not knowing when, Chen Youzai heard a strange voice. He wanted to open his eyes to tell that person that he never wished to die, he was really scared of death. After striving for a long time, Chen Youzai only hummed a few times. He was unable to even lift his eyelids.
“The day I decide to let you die, you would want to live but still could not live…”
Is it Sishen that has arrived? Or is it Yan Wangye who came to beckon? Chen Youzai was immensely panic-stricken. A shining white light made him feel that his body become more and more light. It was like he was floating upwards. Was he going to die now? In a split second, Chen Youzai felt like his heart was like dead ashes.
(「死神」a mythological figure [such as the Grim Reaper] in charge of taking the souls of those who die.)
(「阎王爷」same as 閻羅王 and 阎罗王; Yama, King of Hell)
(「心如死灰」xīn rú sǐhuī – means “hopelessly apathetic.)
He felt an unknown person pry his jaw open and a warm liquid flowed along his tongue into his throat. It was probably Old Lady Meng’s soup! Chen Youzai inwardly thought, although Old Lady Meng ruthlessly poured, the soup that was made was really good to drink. Perhaps this will free him at last. Chen Youzai really gave up all hope.
(「孟婆」Mèng Pó – is the Lady of Forgetfulness in Chinese mythology. Meng Po serves in Diyu, the Chinese realm of the dead, in the 10th court. It is her task to ensure that souls who are ready to be reincarnated do not remember their previous life or their time in hell. To this end she collects herbs from various earthly ponds and streams to make her Five Flavored Tea of Forgetfulness [迷魂汤/迷魂湯/Mi-hun-t’ang which literally means “waters of oblivion”]. This is given to each soul to drink before they leave Diyu. The brew induces instant and permanent amnesia, and all memory of other lives is lost. Having been purged of all previous sins and knowledge, the dead spirit is sent to be reborn in a new earthly incarnation, and the cycle begins again. Occasionally people are able to avoid drinking the brew, resulting in past life memories surfacing in children.)
After waking up, Chen Youzai felt that he had somehow regained his strength, but the environment’s condition had not improved a bit. Again alive, Chen Youzai was extremely excited. He held his hands to thank God for taking so much pity on him, to be alive now was Chen Youzai’s highest request. Because as long as he is alive, there is hope to retrieve the silver coin.
In the next few days, Chen Youzai genuinely appreciated at last that the flavor of life was not tantamount to death, although this was just the beginning. He thought that his body did not need food, because beforehand, he did not know that there was someone there helping him drink his soup. Facing the foul-smelling lump of potherbs, Chen Youzai’s pitch-dark face exposed a tearful, longing expression.
Because he really could not stand the stomach contractions, Chen Youzai pinched his nose taking a mouthful. The next second, he would stoop throwing up. Bile mixed with a trace of blood came out as Chen Youzai wept again. He does not feel that he is a weak person, but these days, he seemed to have been crying a lot. Except for crying, he could not find any other means to vent.
No food to eat, no water to drink. He did not dare open his mouth (to say something) because in such a dry place, opening one’s mouth would mean that the tongue would stick to the roof of one’s mouth. In addition to heavy manual labor, he would also have to endure the cruel beatings, and Chen Youzai especially hated his own body now. How could he even fight without falling apart? If it would be worn out, he would be unconscious. After getting beaten for a few days, he would continue to be smooth and clean as before, and then once more branded with new wounds. It was purgatory-like torture.
He only had a few hours of sleep a day, but because of his big and small bruises that has made him moan and cry in pain, he could not even dare crying and shouting during daytime. Finally, during the second half of the night (midnight), he would only get a bit of sleepiness. Chen Yousai easily wakes up with a hard stick or a long whip. The torture would then continue, the next day.