Don’t Be a Kept Man
Chapter 108: Life is Short and Full of Pain, Why Forsake Each Other
The tea room was situated in a very quiet and serene neighbourhood, and inside, it was decorated with a variety of antiques.
Right in the middle, there was a glass cabinet where many different historical items, jewels, jade and precious stones lay inside.
Near the back wall was an antique rack, holding a few celadon vases, and the rest of the available space was all for jars and jars of tea leaves.
A faint sandalwood scent was burning in the air, calming nerves and soothing tensions.
When Su Qing walked into the back room, she was greeted by a memorial tablet that had no name on it and a mourning portrait of a young woman.
Even in its monochrome colors of black and white, the mourning portrait did not diminish or hide away the beauty of the woman it captured.
With motions that showed how often she had done this before, Su Qing went to pay her respects, lighting up three incense sticks before pushing them into the incense holder.1
Yan Yu stood right beside her the entire time, thinking that he seemed to have seen this picture before in Su Qing’s apartment.
He wanted to ask, but those words never came out.
Su Qing used a cloth to wipe off the slight layer of dust on the altar.2 Glancing at Yan Yu and meeting his inquisitive pair of eyes, her movements slowed.
As she slowly polished the photo frame, she quietly said,
“This is my memorial tablet.”
Yan Yu raised his eyebrows slightly,
“You’re a ghost?”
“Do I look like one?”
Su Qing smiled,
“There was a fated catastrophe in my life.
Supposed to have died when I was eighteen years old.
I didn’t believe it nor was I willing to take it lying down, and so I gave myself a change in life.
According to the rules passed down from the past generation, I should make an altar for myself and burn some incense.”
Yan Yu looked at that photo, finding some similarity between the eyes and Su Qing, and complimented her,
“You were really beautiful before.”
“There’s no point to beauty.
What logic would there be in the world where I’ll have everything in life.
They’ve said beauty will lead to your death3, so if I have to be ugly, then I’d be ugly.
I’m pretty happy now just like this.”
It was the cycle of life to grow old and die of sickness.
Some could live to be a hundred and more, while some passed away too early in life; it was all fated.
Forcefully changing her life meant that Su Qing must pay an equivalent price.
Xun Chuan took a look at the photo, thinking that she was really really beautiful.
On one hand, he felt pity for Su Qing, but on the other, it was already a miracle to be alive.
The tea room was very quiet, a nice kind of quiet.
There were few customers but if they do come, it would only be a big contract.
Sometimes Su Qing would be too busy and she wouldn’t be able to tend the shop, turning her into a real life example of the legendary saying of only opening for half a year and living as she willed for the other half.
When Yan Yu started to tend the store, business began to turn out even better than before, but most of them were females which made Xun Chuan let out a goosebump inducing laugh.
Su Qing also hurtfully teared up,
“Is this a world that only looks at the face?”
Xun Chuan coldly said,
“Isn’t it a world that only looks at face.”
Su Qing ded.4
Yan Yu didn’t really care.
If there was business, he’d accept it.
He’d watch the store in the morning and when it was quiet at night, he’d go help Su Qing with Xun Chuan.
Compared to the scrapping and scraping for life, muddledly living through just for the sake of existing, he was unbelievably hard working.
Time passed just like this and it was already winter.
Cold freezing wind blew down the streets but as the tea room had a heater, it didn’t feel very cold.
Su Qing had gone to the market to buy some food, as they planned to wrap dumplings themselves.
Today was also the last day of business until it started to warm up again.
Wearing a light grey England style checkered pattern fuzzy sweater, Yan Yu was just closing up the shop, cleaning it from top to bottom and creating a back full of sweat.
He situated the broomstick back in its place before taking a seat behind the counter, playing on his phone and waiting until 6pm to close up the shop.
Snuggled up in his embrace, Xun Chuan found that Yan Yu was watching a drama, and it was one of those really really old wuxia dramas at that.
Even though that period had long since passed, they were still the memories of a decade of people.
Xun Chuan sat on Yan Yu’s legs and swung his own back and forth,
“You’re such an old man.”
If a person starts to like recalling his past, that could only mean that he’s old.
“This is called maturity.”
Yan Yu placed his cellphone on the cabinet rack and then grabbed Xun Chuan from behind.
Wrapping his hands around his waist and pulling Xun Chuan towards him, he held onto him tightly as they both affixed their eyes on his phone to watch the drama.
After a while, he asked Xun Chuan,
“Are you cold?”
Xun Chuan took a look outside and realized that it was already snowing.
After a while, he nuzzled back into Yan Yu’s warm embrace and reached his hands down Yan Yu’s clothes,
Yan Yu covered him with a blanket that was sitting on a chair nearby and then soundlessly tightened his embrace.
The tea pot on the table was still emitting steam, making a “gu-lu-gu-lu” sound as Xun Chuan, lying in Yan Yu’s embrace, grabbed a chocolate hazelnut candy from the table through the air.
He was playing on the cellphone and it looked like he was eyeing some furniture.
Xun Chuan: “This desk lamp looks really good.”
There was no waste in his share of hard work and tears this year as Yan Yu finally saved up enough money to buy a place.
He planned to wait until the weather got warmer before renovating, and these past few days, he’d just been looking at furniture.
Hearing Xun Chuan’s words, he followed along with his gaze to look and found a small cloud shaped desk lamp.
One where you press the lamp and it would light up.
He reached over to hit add to cart and then gave his opinion,
Xun Chuan: “Puh.”
Yan Yu laughed,
“If you like it, then we’ll buy it.”
Underneath the cabinet was a thick stack of bagua diagrams, the results of his hard work during the year.
Because it was related to the numbers of life, it could not be just ripped apart or shredded; they have to be gathered and then burned.
Xun Chuan ordered the little desk lamp in the end and even had the enthusiasm to keep shopping.
Seeing that stack of paper, he shook his head and asked,
“Don’t you feel that it’s boring to draw all those, haven’t you always been so lazy and greedy?”
Yan Yu calmly interrupted him,
“I’m not greedy.”
Xun Chuan: “Alright then, lazy.”
Yan Yu: “That categorization doesn’t work either, because I am very hardworking right now.”
Xun Chuan didn’t say anything after that and ate the piece of chocolate, chomping loudly on the hazelnut inside.
Yan Yu ruffled his hair gently and tilted his head to kiss him, as if he would be able to taste the chocolate just from that.
Yan Yu: “Xun Chuan……”
Yan Yu kissed his eyebrows,
“To be with someone important to me, living life and taking it seriously everyday, it’s worth more than the hundreds of years others could live through in a haze.”
Yan Yu: “…… I very much regret that I didn’t live so greatly for the past 20 or so years.
But I am also very glad that there is still time for me to turn it around.”
The blanket covering Xun Chuan still held the warmth emitted from Yan Yu’s body and it was warm and comfy, feeling nothing of the stormy weather outside.
Xun Chuan closed his eyes, as if he could still hear the songs playing out in the open streets, and his heart, that has always felt like it was missing something, suddenly became full and content.
The internet on Yan Yu’s phone failed and the sounds stopped.
It was still loading but he wasn’t in a rush and they quietly listened to the songs coming from outside, accompanied by the cars honking by.
The wind chime by the door rang its clear vibrating sound; Su Qing was back with the groceries.
Her hair was layered in a light dusting of snow, and she shivered upon entering the tea room that was churning with warmth.
She scraped her shoes by the mat as she said,
“There were so many people at the supermarket.
I thought there wouldn’t even be anyone at this time of day.
Oh it’s so cold, so cold.”
Yan Yu grabbed the groceries off her hands, and when he set them aside, he realized she bought a lot of meat, along with dried fruit and snacks.
He very self consciously went to wash the vegetables in the back where the tea room had a little tiny kitchen.
Su Qing unraveled her scarf and cleaned up the table holding their cups of tea.
She pushed up her sleeves and said to Xun Chuan,
“Let’s make the dumplings here.”
Yan Yu’s voice, filled with suffering, floated out,
“A scented rosewood desk being used for rolling dough.
What a use.”
Su Qing: “For flour, not to chop it for firewood.”
Yan Yu’s phone was still in the same spot, and when the network was working again, the TV show streaming on the screen started playing again.
Xun Chuan made the dough as he listened and Su Qing took a glance,
“The Legend of the Condor Heroes?5 That song’s quite familiar.
Much more interesting than watching the new year broadcast.”
Before the three of them interacted, they were all loners on their own.
They never had the habit of watching the new near broadcasts, as the more boisterous and lively the TV showed, the more painfully bare the space by their sides felt.
After Yan Yu came out with the seasoning all prepped, he was greeted by only three dumpling skins.
He dragged a chair over and rolled out the dough himself,
“And why couldn’t we have bought pre-made dumpling skins?”
Xun Chuan: “It’s more fun to roll the dough.”
Su Qing nodded her head in agreement.
She couldn’t cook, so the entire time she was just coasting along on Xun Chuan’s coattails.
In the end, all the dumplings were wrapped by Xun Chuan.
When the dumplings were scooped back up from the pot, each one of them were perfectly white and chubby, with the skin perfectly chewy and enough stuffing inside; it was almost heaven once you dipped it in vinegar.
They were almost done dinner when Su Qing gave a new year’s greeting,
“Happy New Year.
This can be considered one of the happiest years I ever had, unlike before where I’ve been just by my lonesome.”
Shu-Shis had five disadvantages and three deficiencies, as in “No Wife”, “Alone”, “No Family”, “No Offsprings”, “Disabled” and “Money”, “Life”, “Power”, respectively.
The world has its own rules for fate and destiny in the way it moves along with time.
These were the punishments they could not not accept for peering through the heavens’ will.6
For the three of them to be gathered like this by coincidence, it could be said to be fate.
Yan Yu smiled and nodded his head,
“Happy New Year.”
Xun Chuan heard the fireworks exploding in the sky and his head tilted up to take a look.
A flash of radiance greeted his eyes and he answered back,
“Happy New Year.”
Su Qing grabbed two big red pockets out of her pocket and gave one to Xun Chuan, and the other to Yan Yu,
“This year has had a lot of hurdles for the both of you, and I’ve also troubled you a lot.
May this coming year be hurdle-free for you both and may you both be successful in whatever you may do.
May the both of you live long lives.”
Yan Yu was just about to receive the red pocket when all of a sudden a chime sounded out in his brain.
His hands shook and the red pocket fell into the bowl of soup on the table.
[ Ding! ]
[ This service is about to end.
My dear host, you have successfully risen up with fervor, perfectly committing yourself to the definition of being self-sufficient and self-reliant.
Through the judgment of the galactic judges, you have reached the passing mark.
May you please continue to walk down this path, keeping up this commitment for the rest of your life~ ]
Yan Yu subconsciously sighed a breath of relief but then paused in surprise after mulling over the words,
“You are leaving?”
And he thought the system would latch into him for his entire life.
[ Ding! Because my dear host, you don’t need this system anymore.
This is a good thing as there is no meeting that will never part under these skies.
That’s why you must treasure each minute, each second we are together~ Life is also just like this.
Please continue down this path without hesitation.
Don’t make a second mistake after you’ve done it once ]
Sweetness comes after bitterness… sweetness comes after bitterness.
Because there was a bitterness before, the sweetness that comes after is all that much more precious.
After what Yan Yu has experienced, the system believed that he must understand this logic more than anyone else.
Yan Yu was silent for a moment before he smiled,
And thank you for the causality of what happened.”
To meet was the beginning, to leave was the end.
For a shu-shi to divine as much as they could, in the end, wasn’t it for the beginning and the end, a cause and an effect, this cycle.
[ Ding! Withdrawal process has been initiated.
Please, my dear host, make your preparations,
This service has been completed to the fullest.
May the mountains never change, may the water keep flowing, and may we never see each other again~ ]
A ball of blue light floated up from his body, flying up towards the falling white snow.
Seeing Yan Yu blanking out, Xun Chuan bumped him with his arm,
“What are you doing? Gone dumb?”
Xun Chuan pulled out a tissue to pick up the red pocket, and wiped it before handing it over to Yan Yu.
Yan Yu didn’t take it,
Leave it all for you to manage.”
Xun Chuan paused, and then threw himself into Yan Yu’s arms.
He held in his laughter as he said,
“I’m not eyeing your money.”
Yan Yu received the red pocket, looked at him and asked back,
“Then are you eyeing my body?”
Xun Chuan kicked him under the table.
Seeing everything from beginning to end, Su Qing, sitting just on the opposite side of them, quietly covered her face.
Revealing only a pair of tea colored eyes, paired with her silky smooth black hair, you could just faintly tell how beautiful she had once been,
“Both of you, enough please.”
Yan Yu only smiled and then covertly slipped the red pocket into Xun Chuan’s pockets.
Life is so short and bitter, why forsake each other.
Well, we’ve reached the end of Volume 4! It’s been a heck of an emotional ride for sure (although, Plum as cold hearted as you are >: ( can’t say the same!!! lol), but hopefully you’ve enjoyed it all the same.
What did you think of the volume, and which one has been your favourite so far? I don’t really have a particular preference myself (as I guess that’s why I like QT haha, read a lot of different settings fast but with almost the same premise), at least so far, but I would consider Volume 4 to be fairly memorable, just based on the setting (although… honestly, all volumes I’ve translated hold a place in my heart, just given the amount of time I’ve spent on them haha).
In any case, like I mentioned last friday in Chapter 106, we will be back with Volume 5 Chp 109 (time sure flies…) July 19th! It’s going to be different again from Volume 4, I would say, maybe a bit more in line like Volume 1, where it’s set in the modern ages, with a scumbag of a protagonist and an interesting love partner he will have
*1 A lot to unpack here, but on a very brief note, when someone passes away, a memorial tablet (or as google says spirit tablet) is usually a wooden rectangular shape with a base at the bottom (to stand upright when placed down), sometimes with a bit of something like a crown moulding either around or at the top (there’s a bit of variation just quite like how grave plates can be – which you could think of what this is, just a smaller version of a grave plate).
Sort of like making a little altar of sorts, but it’s to honor those who died (or in some cases, can be to certain gods as well) and usually has their name/title.
If you recall from volume 2, when to those that were to be wedded to a man, they were said to not “carry on the incense” or something along those lines, mentioned in the first chapter of the volume I believe, and how they need male “main” descendants to keep on burning incense for their ancestors.
In this case, their ancestors would be on these tablets and lined up in rows, which if you have seen some cdramas on some ancient dynasties, it would be like the rows and rows of marked rectangular shapes and the male descendent kneeling before to say something like sorry I have betrayed all of you or our lineage, or please protect the family, etc.
The mourning portrait is really just a photo (generally the best one/most recent best photo) to display as who died/who they are paying respects to and in some cases, can be believed to become the eyes of the person to look upon or like an anchor (can be monochrome or color).
And last but not least, 3 incense sticks, is a custom that apparently has many different explanations, but has been passed down for centuries like this – so when you pay respects to the deceased or to the gods, it is always(or maybe mostly) 3.
There’s apparently a whole lot of reasons for this, but there wasn’t exactly a particular “superior” theory that stands out, so I’ll just leave that as is… it’s kind of broad as 3 is apparently an important number in a certain number of religions/from history but nothing that really says why this tradition is passed down, although it has been a really cursory search, so if you are interested, you may be able to find more reliable sources! (personally for me, it’s about respect and to honour (and includes 3 bows as well), but you’ll find some variation in different family traditions).
*2 I call it an altar just to simplify things, but it’s really just considered the place of where you put that memorial tablet/photo and the incense as like a special table of sorts which usually can be moved, but depending on the tradition you follow, may have some ritual attached to “move” like to ask/bow, etc.
*3 Beauty leads to death: I’ve just translated this to fit her words, but in essence, what she really says is a 4 word idiom that basically describes a woman having great beauty but her life sucks
*4 This was a bit hard but I didn’t really just want to put Su Qing died to refer that she “died”… I’m using “ded” as in the english slang where you text someone “ded” or “i’m ded” kind of thing just to differentiate here that she didn’t really die, but just a phrasing of the word that she died on the spot… mentally/figuratively? Hopefully that makes sense lol (ﾉ´ｰ`)ﾉ
*5 Legend of the Condor Heroes: The first part of a wuxia trilogy by Jin Yong, an author you might have already seen referenced a lot in the previous volumes and there’s a few versions of this in dramas and other media, which if you are interested, there are some on youtube that have eng subs! The one that Xun Chuan might be referring Yan Yu is watching is very likely either the 1976 or 1983 as they are the oldest adaptations… (although there is the 1993/1994 ones too, which I guess can also be a generation so : )
*6 So technically it’s supposed to be one word each, but obviously, when it’s all like synonyms of being alone/widower, etc, there’s not really much to distinguish if I just did alone, alone, alone, alone lol.
Anyway, to be a bit more precise, these problems come about because of fate/destiny.
The world is supposed to run a certain way, like reason/logic, or like how the world runs on a set of principles and no one should be privy to that information as that’s not something for “humans” to know.
Although, obviously that is based on one belief, kind of like if you believe in morals or a governing principle the world abides by (or has).
With Shu-shis, especially in the realm of feng shui, these people are “peering through the heavens” as in looking at something they are not supposed to, or to glance at the wills of the heavens that are dictated by a certain ruleset and only the heavens should do that.
So in response to their “fortune telling/telling of the future/knowledge about something beyond the “human plane” like the destiny or fate of someone, like Newton’s 3rd law actually (for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction), they have to suffer some consequences.
In this case, it’s separated into two categories of the five disadvantages: to have 1) no wife/a wife that will die early, becoming a widow, 2) can’t ever marry (or re-marry) or misfortune in life with those around you, 3) lose your parents 4) can’t have kids (or if you did by chance, they die fast/early) and 5) to have some sort of disability.
And for the three deficiencies: 1) power: not only no power like societal/job etc.
kind of power, but also no luck, 2) money: no money.
If you do have money, you will definitely meet a misfortune (hence why in most supernatural genres of shu-shis you might have read, the shu-shis usually donate or help those in need as that helps to hold back the misfortune/hurdle thrown at them once they have a lot of money) and 3) life: shortened life – I think this one is most commonly known when someone is a shu-shi or at least kind of the first thing that comes to mind is that heavens will take away the lifespan of someone who can “peer” into their will.)
You'll Also Like
I Heard That I Am PoorChapter 34 22 hours ago
The World of Reincarnated BeingsChapter 6 22 hours ago
Getting Outsmarted By The CEOChapter 83 22 hours ago
The Tyrant Wants To Live HonestlyChapter 20 March 26, 2023
I Was Reincarnated in a Modern Day Onmyoji FamilyChapter 25 March 26, 2023
Sword Fanatic Wanders Through The NightChapter 4 March 26, 2023
The Bewitchingly Beautiful Girl I Saved 4 Years Ago Returned to Me, but Now She Is a… Yandere?Chapter 24 March 25, 2023
A Professional AvengerChapter 45 March 25, 2023
I Need SponsorshipChapter 18 March 24, 2023
I Think The Genre Has ChangedChapter 3 March 24, 2023
Transmigrating into the Prince Regent’s Beloved Runaway WifeChapter 11 22 hours ago
Stop It! It’s Not Me That’s Strong… It’s the Sword…!Chapter 6 March 23, 2023