Don’t Be a Kept Man
Chapter 100: A Standoff between Life and Death
“After another 36 days, the time for the ghost door to open will arrive.
If you want to reincarnate, that will be your best chance.”
She then dropped three copper coins into the turtle shell.
When she lifted her eyes up again, it was not the sight of that female wandering ghost that greeted her.
Instead, she had been replaced by a dark, gentle beauty of a man.
Su Qing paused in surprise, and then gently shook the turtle shell in her hands a few times,
“Ah, isn’t this the pretty little brother I saw just now? Did you come find me because you have unresolved desires or was there something you wanted to ask?”
Looking extremely warm and inviting, Xun Chuan crossed his leg and put an ankle on the opposite knee before suddenly exploding out his resentment and causing all the wandering souls to titter with fear and back up.
His pair of phoenix eyes subtly scanned over Su Qing and just like Yan Yu said, she was wearing a full outfit of designer clothes: a rich woman.
Xun Chuan lifted his eyes,
“You moved here for this?”
Su Qing’s fingers stroked over the ancient old copper coins,
“I only earn money from the dead.
Where there is the most “yin” energy, where there are many lost wandering souls, I will go.
If you have unfinished wishes, as long as you give enough money, this lady here can help you finish it hoh~”
Xun Chuan looked at her without a sound.
Su Qing seemed to understand something and she smiled,
“Alright, it’s not any unfulfilled desire I can help you bring to life.
What other questions do you have, ask them now.
This lady still has to do her business.”
Xun Chuan did want to leave, but then he remembered something and suddenly said,
“Can you read bagua diagrams?”
He reached up with an overly pale white finger, and used his resentment to draw a six pointed star-shaped array in the air, almost the exact same as the one in the drawer.
Su Qing took a look and then said,
“It’s a life divination diagram.”
“The end of the year, month and day are all of the pinpoint numbers of 3, 6 and 9, pointing to an opposite balance.
The five elements are also opposite of each other.
Top is life and bottom is death, “dui” is life, “kun” as empty, one lives, one dies…… it’s a diagram for a Sheng Si Ju.”1
Xun Chuan silently listened to her, without a single decipherable expression on his face, and then he asked quietly,
“What does it mean?”
Su Qing looked over the array again in greater detail and then pointed to a string of numbers above,
“This person’s birth, in the year and the month, isn’t great.
Their life’s too hard.”2
And then pointed at the string of numbers at the bottom,
“And this person’s life is too weak.
All of the five elements are getting held down by the one above, matching perfectly to misfortune.
Much like a rabbit who stands in front of a fox, a sheep who fell into the wolves’ den……”
The numbers on top were Yan Yu’s birthdate and the ones below, were Xun Chuan’s.
The night was growing darker, and Su Qing hadn’t turned on the lights in her apartment.
Only a clay pot quietly stood by her hands, accompanied by a small dish that was filled with about half a year’s worth of lamp oil for her eternal flame3.
A long black wick was submerged inside, burning with a light about the size of a bean.
The light was flickering, warming up Xun Chuan’s cold white face, almost making him look like he was made of jade.
And yet right at this time, a sudden breeze of “yin” energy blew by and that eternal lamp shook a bit, before it was extinguished.
Smoke weakly wafted up from the last remnants of the flame, and the wandering souls lining up started to become terrified and ran away, causing chaos for no apparent reason.
Su Qing wanted to light it back up, but she was stopped by Xun Chuan’s resentment pressing down on her wrist.
Beside her ear, a man’s low husky voice rang out, his tone a sweet ice cold, sparking goosebumps all the way down her spine,
Xun Chuan repeated himself,
“Continue what you were saying.
In the darkness, Su Qing could only see a pair of blood red eyes, reddened to the point of being terror inducing.
She paused and then put down the lighter in her hand and said,
“To speak more plainly, the person on top will bring the person on the bottom to their death.
Because the lives of the two do not match in one way or another, as long as they are together, they will be opposites and oppose each other’s life force.
In the end, without a doubt, it will end in one’s death as the other one lives.”
The moment the last word came out of her mouth, her wrist was relieved of the pressure after a momentary pause, and that extremely heavy presence of an atmosphere began to fade away, as if it had never been there.
While they conversed, the wandering spirits in the stairway had been pushing each other and then those who were pushed, were pushed back, turning the area into a mesh pit of chaos.
When Su Qing used the lighter to light that eternal lamp back up, they finally settled down into order, as if nothing happened – forming back into their queue and continuing to line up.
Xun Chuan floated back through the wall of Yan Yu’s apartment and bumped right into Yan Yu who was peeking through the gap in the door.
His expression was focused, so focused he didn’t seem to have noticed Xun Chuan at all.
So Xun Chuan could only raise his hand and lightly rest it on Yan Yu’s shoulders.
For once in his life, Yan Yu looked surprised for a moment.
Seeing that it was Xun Chuan, he subconsciously straightened up and stopped hovering around the door.
Walking towards the bed, he said,
“What did you see?”
Xun Chuan didn’t follow him, and with his own back against the door, his soul was invisibly split in two: one side was thinking about things, and the other was used to answer his question,
“…… She’s like you.
Helps ghosts finish their unfinished business and earn money from the dead.”
Yan Yu didn’t find anything out of place about Xun Chuan and so he only nodded his head at his words,
“No wonder she’s that rich.”
He then turned to lay down on his bed, turning on the TV for some background noise to at least cover up the racket outside.
Then he grabbed a little book and continued practicing his arrays.
With the sound of pen scratching on paper, Xun Chuan pulled his thoughts back together, and with his eyes on the TV, he asked,
“Why did you break up with me the first time……”
The sounds from the TV were too loud and so Yan Yu couldn’t clearly hear what Xun Chuan said.
Without lifting his head, he asked,
“What? Why what what?”
Xun Chuan tried his best to use a very casual tone of voice and repeated himself,
“I said, why did you break up with me the first time.”
But he quickly reacted and capped the pen, putting it on the bedside table with his book,
“Why are you asking this? It’s all in the past.
There’s no point to the reason anyway.”
He was still as much of an asshole as he had always been, as if the only one entrenched in the past and couldn’t pull out was only Xun Chuan himself.
Xun Chuan’s mouth tugged at the corners,
“Fine, then I won’t ask.”
His body dissipated and then reappeared out of thin air right beside Yan Yu.
He brought with him a breeze of cold air, and not a single word.
Acting like usual, watching the TV, yet nothing registered in his brain.
A moment later, Xun Chuan suddenly lowered his head slowly, and pulled on the fingers of Yan Yu’s right hand, one at a time.
Spreading them wide open and then tapping his own down in the space created to interlace their hands together, painting a pale white-ish green and white picture.
He had died on the coldest day of the winter, making him that much more colder than a regular ghost would be.
Almost as if just by lightly touching him, a layer of frost would appear.
Yan Yu didn’t understand why he was doing this and turned his head to look at him.
Yet Xun Chuan suddenly said something that was completely unrelated,
“I never knew you could tell fortunes before.”
Yan Yu stared back up at the TV, and said with his free hand holding up his head,
“Being a Shen Gun isn’t that glamorous of a job.
Can’t you see how I’m so poor I can’t even eat a meal.”
Xun Chuan turned his gaze to the fourth drawer by the desk in the corner.
His expression was complicated, but after a long while, he didn’t say anything in the end.
His spirit slowly floated down, lying next to Yan Yu, and as per usual, sprouted out something completely random,
“I remember, when you treated me so nicely before…..”
Every time Xun Chuan met Yan Yu, it was always during his most haggard moments: been found by hooligans on the street and gotten into a fight, been hit and dunked in alcohol, been hit by a car, and so on and so on.
Numerous occasions that happened so much it was uncountable.
Yet he would never remember the falls and scrapes, always lurching forward to face the danger or the aggressors head on instead.
Whatever reason it was for that day, Xun Chuan had argued with his family and ran away from home.
Walking around with a glaring handprint on his face in the middle of the night, smoking and drinking, he had been the perfect model of an unruly and disobedient teenager.
His face had been burning with pain, and it was most likely bruised.
If Yan Yu saw this, how embarrassing would it be, Xun Chuan had thought to himself.
And so he only loitered around in a park, waiting for himself to slowly calm down.
When he was finally sleepy, he’d go find a hotel to sleep in.
That time, he didn’t go find Yan Yu.
The night was descending deeper into darkness, and the trees were swaying in the shadows.
The park was so silent, only crickets could be heard.
The streetlamps were of a pale white color, shining upon objects and casting weird shadows, creating an eerie atmosphere.
A shadowy figure looked to be passing by in the far distance, and it seemed to be dragging something heavy.
The bag was being dragged on the ground, scratching along the floor and sending shivers all the way to Xun Chuan’s brain, frightening him enough to wake up from his drunken haze before he realized it was just a homeless man collecting garbage.
He loosened up and leaned back against the park bench.
Without a single inkling of sleep, a numbness spread through him like a burning flame.
He looked through his phone, then closed it, then looked through it again and then closed it again.
Xun Chuan felt time passing in silence, until the streetlamps highlighted a long shadow not far away.
Hands in his pockets as that figure walked over closer to him.
Only when that figure came closer did Xun Chuan realize it was Yan Yu.
At that moment, he didn’t know what kind of feeling arose in him, but…… it was a similar feeling to fireworks exploding……
In the empty sky, a sudden explosion that rocked the world……
Xun Chuan sat on the bench, in a state of shock as he looked up, and his hands unconsciously tightened without his will onto his knees.
Seeing the handprint on his face, Yan Yu squinted his eyes,
“Hey, what happened? Your face is as red as a monkey’s butt.”
If it was before, Xun Chuan would have yelled back at him; it wouldn’t have even been out of the realm of possibility for him to start a physical fight.
But that day, he suddenly didn’t have the desire to fight with Yan Yu.
He scrunched up his face and turned away, bringing on a bit of that feeling of a child being told off even though he did nothing wrong,
“Got beaten up.”
Yan Yu asked,
“Why didn’t you fight back?”
Xun Chuan didn’t answer and after a moment, he finally looked at Yan Yu.
With his pair of black misty eyes, he said,
“How did you know I’d be here?”
Yan Yu: “I can divine it out.”
And then added,
“I was just saying, why didn’t you come to harass me today.
So you have chosen to come here to hide instead.”
At these words, Xun Chuan immediately wanted to stand up from the bench, but his footsteps swayed and he fell right onto the floor.
Yan Yu quickly reached out to pull him back up, but Xun Chuan started acting up in his drunken haze, pulling at Yan Yu and not letting him go.
Xun Chuan said,
Yan Yu impatiently pushed him away,
Xun Chuan repeated himself,
“I’m really drunk.
Yan Yu swatted away his hands,
“You’re not drunk.”
But even so, he carried Xun Chuan on his back and they walked slowly towards the exit of the park.
At that moment, Yan Yu felt some burning hot liquid falling down his neck, and asked,
“Are you crying?”
Xun Chuan soundlessly nodded, and then shook his head, saying with a muffled voice,
“My face hurts.”
Yan Yu snorted,
Now you’re hurt only because of a slap?”
Xun Chuan didn’t respond and when Yan Yu asked him where he wanted to go, he soundlessly tightened his arms around Yan Yu’s neck,
“No one wants me, and there’s no one who cares about me.
Yan Yu, bring me to your home…… I want to go to your home……”
Yan Yu thought about it,
But remember to pay rent.”
Xun Chuan finally smiled for the first time that evening and then ducked behind Yan Yu’s back, quietly saying,
“Yan Yu, thank you for coming to find me……”
Yan Yu piggybacked him, walking slowly towards his own apartment,
We have at least that bit of relationship between us.”
That night, as the two of them lay on the same bed, Xun Chuan had somehow mustered up the courage from somewhere, or perhaps it may have been the alcohol or something else, and reached out to hug Yan Yu, borrowing that last bit of drunken haze in him to kiss him.
“Yan Yu, I like you……”
Xun Chuan’s face and eyes couldn’t stop trembling, as burning hot tears fell.
How hot was it to the touch that it could make hearts tremble and quake.
He ruthlessly wiped his tears away, like an injured little beast and repeated his words once again,
“Yan Yu, I like you……”
Yan Yu paused, but he didn’t reject him.
He only flipped him around against the bed, and continued through the motions until they merged again and again.
Every time Xun Chuan was with Yan Yu, he always seemed to be experiencing some kind of misfortune.
Yet that day, nothing happened.
All the way until now, only then did he realize that the biggest hurdle in his life was when he was with this man.
*1 As in chapter 96, where I explained a bit about the bagua cloth/diagram, Su Qing is specifically referencing parts of the diagram (specifically the dui/kun part which I mentioned is like pool of water/ground and the symbols ☱/☷ in the previous footnote) and comparing them with each other – this entire thing delves quite deeply into the specific components and that goes beyond, way beyond, what I know/can explain TT__TT
But in that sense, a “Sheng Si Ju” which I’m taking the pinyin for as it’s getting harder to describe (๑‾᷅^‾᷅๑) means basically the “standoff between life and death”.
Like the couple in the chapter where the wife died and mentioned very briefly by Yan Yu as the husband “bringing” misfortune to his wife, the same situation is being described by Su Qing – the way their ba-zis form the diagram create this “Sheng Si Ju”, where every element is in opposition to each other and with Yan Yu’s ba-zi (explained in footnote 2), it creates this “standoff” as I’m calling it, but really like a “situation”, where life and death are like chess pieces on a chess board (in opposite colours, of course) and kind of almost one move off from a checkmate on either side, if that makes any more sense… Or I guess like the prophecy from Harry Potter haha, where one must live as the other must die (but by the other’s misfortune)
*2 Here she’s saying that Yan Yu’s ba-zi is determined to be a bit special in the way that his ba-zi says he has terrible luck/misfortune (bit of variance on that as it could also mean that he brings misfortune to everyone around him, but he himself has a “hard” life meaning he can survive most of his hurdles, but not the people around him could, so terrible for family, lovers, friends, and will always be alone/by himself).
And so in the next part where she mentions Xun Chuan’s life is too weak, it’s too weak against Yan Yu who is overpowering with how “hard” his life is.
*3 Eternal flame or eternal lamp as I call it later on, basically means a candle light that will not be extinguished by blowing on it and instead must naturally burn out by themselves.
This is done by a special mechanic within how it’s made (and apparently was found in tombs and supposedly when tomb raiders entered the tomb, they would be greeted by light.
It’s said to be lit up by the oxygen when the tomb was open, but one of the reasons it’s eternal besides its purpose was this), but traditionally, this kind of fire was made as lighting for the emperors when they died in their tombs, in hopes of making it as bright as it has been in their palaces before, as well as in some places to be believed that without this flame, some certain types of malicious beings/ghosts will grab random people by sound and do bad things to do, so the “eternal” could also mean to pass beyond life into death.
:O We’re in the 3 digits!!! And already past the halfway mark (and almost to a year…)! Thank you everyone who has been along with me on this journey, and here’s to hope you all enjoy the rest too!!!
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