“Even if we were to save a thousand or ten thousand people, it still wouldn’t be worth paying the price of losing you.”
Editor(s): Amalea, FistFullOfDollars, Juurensha
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By 1am that morning, the entire college had fallen into a deep slumber.
“The words you said to Lin Xun,” Under the moonlight, Zhou Sheng propped Yu Hao up to climb over the wall so that they could get back to their dormitory, “Have you been thinking about them for awhile now?”
“No.” Yu Hao replied, “I don’t know why I suddenly said all that. So naggy, I felt like Xuanzang……”
Zhou Sheng, “It was really well said.”
Yu Hao, “Ai he must think that I’m just a brat ba.”
Zhou Sheng laughed. Yu Hao continued, “Don’t laugh, I’m going to fall!”
It wasn’t easy for Yu Hao to climb up, yet Zhou Sheng said, “He died at the hands of two brats — Lin Xun will remember that for the rest of his life.”
“It’s good if he remembers.” Yu Hao said, “It’ll be best if he gets life imprisonment.”
“It’s finally over.” Zhou Sheng was both mentally and physically worn out.
“It’s over.” Yu Hao said, “I didn’t expect reality to be even more difficult to deal with than dreams.”
The two of them passed through the corridor. Zhou Sheng draped his arm around Yu Hao’s shoulder, “The moon is really round today.”
Yu Hao, “It’s the 15th.”
They stood in the corridor and looked at the lone moon in the sky. Its light looked both sacred and pure; under its illumination, the darkness and evil in the world seemed to vanish into nothingness, to reveal a tranquil and grand dreamscape.
“It’s not unusual for the sun to appear in the day, but it’s really rare for the moon to appear at night.” Zhou Sheng said, “So even at night, we feel no fear.”
“That’s wrong.” Yu Hao said, “The sun comes first, day follows after.”
The door to their dormitory rang softly. Zhou Sheng used his phone to illuminate their surroundings and entered quietly. Yu Hao saw a laptop on Fu Liqun’s table. There was a cup of water and a torn pack of instant noodle condiment beside it.
We’ve committed a sin……Yu Hao couldn’t bear to imagine how Fu Liqun must have longed for the food that he was supposed to bring from 8pm, and how he passed the time by watching some American TV series and endured with cold water and a packet of instant noodle condiment from yesterday; all the way until 12am, with no one replying to his messages, so he could only go to bed in despair.
When Zhou Sheng saw Fu Liqun’s table, he too was speechless for a moment. He looked at the bed and both of them heard Fu Liqun’s stomach grumble with a “gu——”.
“You guys are finally back?” Fu Liqun said in a hopeless voice that sounded as if he had nothing left to live for in this world, from where he lay in bed.
Zhou Sheng quickly turned on the light, “I forgot to buy the instant noodles, I’ll definitely buy it tomorrow. Yu Hao brought dinner back for you. Come down and eat it ba.”
“There’s Japanese fried rice and sushi! And there’s two portions of fried rice!” Yu Hao said, “Gege, I’m sorry, we won’t leave you alone in the dorm again!”
It was not until the latter half of the night that Yu Hao began to finally feel excited and agitated. They had actually defeated Lin Xun! Afterwards, it got harder for him to fall asleep, until Chen Yekai sent a message:【He’s been arrested.】
Huang Ting:【Things finally took a turn for the better, we found the light at the end of the tunnel. Please accept my bended knees, both of you.】
Chen Yekai:【Make haste the preparations for a silk banner, arrange for it to be sent on an auspicious day.】
Yu Hao found it even harder to fall asleep now. For a moment, he didn’t know how to reply to them and just sent them a bunch of “hahahahaha”s, then tossed and turned restlessly. He heard Zhou Sheng get off the bed. Yu Hao peeked out from his bed and saw him go out onto the balcony. Zhou Sheng sat on the floor with his legs slightly parted, looking tired and indolent as he smoked.
Yu Hao also got out of bed and followed him out onto the balcony. Both of them looked at each other. Zhou Sheng shifted slightly to the side to make space for Yu Hao to sit beside him. They sat there quietly as they watched the starry sky. Neither of them spoke, yet their hearts were connected on this quiet moonlit night. This silence...was better than a million words.
Zhou Sheng looked at Yu Hao. He took out his cigarette and handed it to him, as if signaling ‘take a puff?’
Yu Hao tried it once and immediately broke into a fit of violent coughing. Zhou Sheng burst out laughing like he had just pulled a prank and patted his back. Yu Hao looked embarrassed and watched Zhou Sheng laugh, yet Zhou Sheng threw his cigarette away and hugged him.
Yu Hao, “……”
Zhou Sheng hugged him and patted his back. Not long after, he released him, got up, and went to the bathroom to pee. Yu Hao gazed up at the moon. He leaned against the wall, closed his eyes, and dozed off. In this moment, he felt that life was really wonderful, just like the full moon in the sky.
The sun shone brightly for the next few days, and Yu Hao expected that hardly anyone would know about Lin Xun. But unexpectedly, the news had spread like wildfire throughout the college overnight. The local news directly exposed it, so it couldn’t be kept under wraps at all. Lin Xun was detained on suspicion of murder. Fortunately, the college had prepared for this eventuality a long time ago, so they issued a campus-wide announcement the next day: Lin Xun was dismissed. Then the college turned into an ostrich and refused to respond to any queries.
“Daring, aren’t they.” Zhou Sheng said, “Do they think everything will be fine so long as they fire him?”
“As long as it’s not a scandal in the office.” Fu Liqun said, “It won’t turn into some kind of sensational news. You read so little that it can’t even match up to the number of Chicken Soup stories Mimeng wrote.”
In the canteen, Yu Hao put down his lunch and said, “Chen Laoshi’s back!”
“Oh.” Zhou Sheng didn’t care at all and answered, “Why is he back again?”
Fu Liqun, “To teach.”
Zhou Sheng, “……”
The college leaders held a two-day meeting. Liang Jinmin and Chen Yekai had returned, and at this time, Dean Ning undertook a flawless countermeasure to remedy the situation —— she apologised to Liang Jinmin and urged her to continue teaching there.
Liang Jinmin stated that the leaders in the college had nothing to apologise for as they had been unaware. One didn’t need to think that deeply to know that if Lin Xun had really been successful in his attempt to murder his wife, Ning Yu wouldn’t have hired him regardless of how brazen she was. Otherwise, it would be disastrous if this matter were to spread in the academic circles.
“Okay, I’ll stay then.” Liang Jinmin said, “After I teach for a few more years, I plan to retire. Ying city is close to my home too, so it’ll be convenient for me to visit my mother. Nicky wants to stay too.”
Thus, the college succeeded in distancing themselves from this situation, limiting the conflict between Lin Xun and Liang Jinmin to just the scope of their marital relationship. But everyone knew clearly in their hearts — teachers in the college were so frequently in contact with one another that it was impossible for them to have not noticed the traces of Lin Xun’s assault on Liang Jinmin.
Everyone just tacitly remained silent about it.
Chen Yekai resigned as a form teacher and hoped to be an academic advisor in the school who teaches elective courses.
“If the Dean cares about Lin Laoshi’s previous accusations,” Chen Yekai said, “Then I won’t teach Psychology Class 1. After teaching for awhile, I’ll take the doctorate exam. I’ll plan and arrange everything by myself.”
Dean Ning magnanimously kicked the ball back to Chen Yekai’s court, “It’s okay. You can start from next semester onwards, decide for yourself ba.”
What about principles? When Yu Hao heard the inside story, he thought, weren’t you concerned about teacher-student relationships before? In the face of an even bigger scandal, homosexuality and teacher-student relationships can all be swept aside? The winds certainly veered quickly. Liang Jinmin still stayed in her original house as she prepared to testify in court. Chen Yekai moved back to his teacher’s dormitory.
The news of Chen Yekai’s return spread all over the cohort, and the ones who were most elated about it were naturally his enthusiastic female fans. Everyone began speculating that there was a power struggle between Liang Jinmin and Lin Xun, and since she eventually won, Chen Yekai naturally followed along. There were even people who came up with all sorts of dog blood drama plots.
Only Yu Hao was still very worried about this.
“When will his memory be erased?” Yu Hao asked Zhou Sheng in private.
Zhou Sheng was warming up next to the field as he answered, “I’ll let him decide for himself when he’s ready.”
Yu Hao thought about it for awhile but didn’t say anything else. Zhou Sheng continued, “I even thought before that after erasing this portion of his memories, I’ll either seal the Golden Crow Wheel or throw it away.”
“Ah?” Yu Hao didn’t expect Zhou Sheng to have such an idea. If he did that, they would no longer have a way to construct their dreams anymore.
“It was just a thought.” Zhou Sheng turned sideways and, pressed down on his leg and continued, “I haven’t thought it through yet.”
“Was that what you wanted to discuss with me?” Yu Hao asked.
“No.” Zhou Sheng said, “I’m going to run, bye!” As he spoke, he ran onto the track.
The next day, Zhou Sheng tossed the Golden Crow Wheel into a drawer in their dormitory and locked it.
Yu Hao finally couldn’t hold it back anymore and asked, “Why?”
“There’s no ‘why’.” Zhou Sheng answered, “Isn’t it good to live a simple life as we should have been?”
Yu Hao said, “But……don’t you think, since it chose you……”
“No.” Zhou Sheng said, “Don’t try to persuade me anymore.”
Yu Hao was a bit bewildered, “I never thought that you would make such a decision.”
“I thought about it before.” Zhou Sheng said earnestly, “I thought about it more than once. I’ve thought about it ever since the first day I discovered what it could do.”
Yu Hao said, “But you can’t throw it away.”
Zhou Sheng was about to respond when Fu Liqun returned, so the two of them had to stop discussing this topic. Zhou Sheng said, “Revise ba, it’ll be our finals soon.”
“Let’s study.” Fu Liqun said, “There’s so much to memorise, it’s horrible. Please don’t let me fail, I still want to go to Japan with your sis-in-law during the summer vacation!”
So Yu Hao could only close the laptop while he was halfway through his translations and revise with them. Fu Liqun memorised the contents of his common course while Zhou Sheng taught Yu Hao mathematics. Yu Hao was a bit absent-minded and looked at Zhou Sheng.
“That’s it.” Zhou Sheng said, “You’ll understand after you do this question.”
Yu Hao actually didn’t understand and could only say, “Okay.”
The three of them wore their earphones and listened to music as they revised. When Yu Hao was looking for songs, Zhou Sheng sent him a WeChat message.
【You want to hear the truth?】
Yu Hao:【Yes, why?】
Zhou Sheng:【After I tell you, can you promise not to nag me about it anymore in the future?】
Yu Hao thought about it for a bit, then said:【Ok.】
Zhou Sheng:【Promise me.】
Yu Hao:【I promise you.】
There was no more activity on Zhou Sheng’s side. Yu Hao looked at him. Zhou Sheng was typing on his phone; he would type out a paragraph, then delete a paragraph, and it seemed he was thinking about how to word his reply. As he was glancing at him, Zhou Sheng raised one hand to point at Yu Hao’s paper to signal to him to stop looking at him and study.
Yu Hao’s head spun from studying Higher Mathematics. After a whole half an hour, Zhou Sheng finally sent a long message.
【Because if we continue living this kind of life, it’s very likely that we’ll run into dangers that are out of our control again. Especially you; that day in Kaikai’s Chichén Itzá dreamscape, in order to save me, you suffered such a serious injury in my place, and we were nearly trapped in there forever. You can heal me, but I can’t heal you. Unless the sun rises, and the sun shines down in x’s dreamscape, only then would you be able to recover. We were lucky in Chichén Itzá, but what about next time? It really is interesting to have the Golden Crow Wheel and be able to travel about freely in dreams, but who can pat their chest and say that we wouldn’t seize someone else’s dream because of some things that we can’t bear to see? You’re a kind person; you won’t be willing to sit back and watch things happen. And of course, you know I won’t either. It feels pretty good to be a hero who fights for justice, but for me, staying alive comes before anything else. I can’t let you be in any danger. Even if we were to save a thousand or ten thousand people, it still wouldn’t be worth paying the price of losing you. For me, nothing else matters. It doesn’t even matter if I don’t get to be a hero, but no harm must come to you. A true understanding of ourselves is the source of all our beliefs and strength. Moreover, I’ve always had a hunch that a time would come when we would let our hot-bloodedness rush to our heads and become arrogant, which would inevitably lead to tragedy. By then, what use would regret be? You usually see me throwing my fists around whenever I want to, right? But I assess the situation and make my judgments before doing so. If I can’t win, then I definitely won’t insist on fighting. The one and only time I didn’t have time to consider the risks was when I climbed up to Shi Liang’s house.】
When Yu Hao saw this message, he didn’t know how to respond to Zhou Sheng for a long time.
Yu Hao:【There was still one more time, when you entered Liang Laoshi’s subconscious.】
Zhou Sheng:【Yes, and that proves my point. Did I have a choice? If I did, I wouldn’t have gone, and I wouldn’t have let you worry. But I had no choice. That’s why I think that if we continue like this, there will come a day where we will once again encounter a situation where we can’t make a choice. So, I must give up the Golden Crow Wheel.】
【I’ve discussed it with Kaikai too, and he agrees with what I think, but he suggested that I give him the Golden Crow Wheel. He will get it appraised at a laboratory in Beijing through the connections Liang Laoshi has and hand it over to them for research purposes. He won’t say that he got it from me. But I haven’t thought that through yet. After handing it over, we’ll be ordinary people and resume our ordinary lives, wouldn’t that be good?】
【Everyone in this world is ordinary. No one has a golden finger, and our lives can’t depend on a golden finger to resolve it.】
Yu Hao took off his earphones and gave Zhou Sheng a sidelong look. Zhou Sheng looked up from his phone to glance at him.
【Yu Hao, I know you won’t want to do that.】
【No, Zhou Sheng, you’re right.】
Zhou Sheng stopped and nodded at Yu Hao.
Yu Hao:【You’ve convinced me, Zhou Sheng, you’re right. I was actually really conflicted about it too, let me think about how I should say this……】
Zhou Sheng:【You don’t need to say it, I understand how you feel, because I once felt that conflict too. Okay, this topic ends here.】
“Are you done?” Zhou Sheng asked.
“I think I did it wrong.” Yu Hao said somewhat angrily.
Zhou Sheng said, “You weren’t listening to me properly in the first place.”
Zhou Sheng came over with his chair and repeated his explanation for Yu Hao. But Yu Hao couldn’t help but think about the Golden Crow Wheel. When he first obtained the Golden Crow Wheel’s recognition, he had also thought about whether the Golden Crow Wheel existed to make the world a better place. Did it bestow upon them the ability to travel through dreams so that they could save more people and eliminate the darkness in their conscious worlds?
With great power comes great responsibility. Possessing the Golden Crow Wheel with unknown origins……Yu Hao really didn’t know how to describe it. With his understanding of it, it seemed like an instrument? It could be called a precision instrument for the time being. There must be some significance behind its existence. After that day, Yu Hao and Zhou Sheng had also discussed some of the messages that the Golden Crow Wheel had conveyed to him, but they never reached a clear conclusion in the end. Because of this, Zhou Sheng especially went to communicate with the Golden Crow Wheel for a long time. It’s just that the effects of a communication purely through consciousness weren’t very obvious. He always felt that there were a lot of messages in his mind, yet he couldn’t extract its contents clearly for a period of time.
At that time, Zhou Sheng said something that left a very deep impression on Yu Hao, “I keep feeling that this was something left behind by aliens. It’s definitely not for my usage; I was just lucky and inadvertently obtained something that doesn’t belong to me.” But there was no way to verify this. After all, Liang Jinmin’s case at that time was extremely unique. They wouldn’t be able to find a suitable subconscious and enter the path of Hearing within the six senses to verify it again.
Besides, unless it was a unique situation where the conscious world in the upper layer collapsed and all memories turned into fragments that fell into the Forgotten Ruins, a normal subconscious wouldn’t have the path of Hearing as memories would take on real forms in one’s dreamscape. That day, Yu Hao had even specifically asked Zhou Sheng how he had managed to set up a passageway into Liang Jinmin’s subconscious from Chen Yekai’s dream.
Zhou Sheng answered him with, ‘the Golden Crow Wheel taught me’. He and Chen Yekai had discussed it for a long time. Chen Yekai was extremely smart, and had deduced that the “sun” in every dreamscape was a pivotal point. They were all under Zhou Sheng’s control, and he could also build passages through these suns.
Zhou Sheng, “Do you understand?”
Yu Hao, “……”
Zhou Sheng, “……”
Yu Hao, “I’m sorry General, I got distracted again.”
Zhou Sheng held his forehead with one hand, “I’m a little confused myself.”
Fu Liqun moved over and said, “General? That’s a nice nickname. Explain the next question for me bei, Yu Hao.”
“Don’t think about it anymore.” Zhou Sheng casually patted Yu Hao on the back of his head.
Ok then. Yu Hao decided to stop thinking about it. No matter how smart he was, he couldn’t be smarter than Zhou Sheng. Since Zhou Sheng had already considered it, then he wouldn’t need to worry too much about it anymore.
It was nearing the end of June. Aside from revising with Zhou Sheng and Fu Liqun, Yu Hao spent the rest of his time translating nonstop.
Chen Yekai invited them out a few times, and Zhou Sheng’s reason for rejection was, “I’m busy right now, I need to compete and study for my exams, I have no time! We’ll talk when they’re all over!”
At the same time, Yu Hao had even less time because he also had to work; he still had over two hundred reports that were crushing him. Chen Yekai would occasionally visit their dormitory unannounced, but he would always do so only when Zhou Sheng was absent. He would bring some cakes or other desserts to their dormitory, sit for five minutes or so, and chat idly for awhile before tactfully leaving.
During lunch, as long as Zhou Sheng didn’t come, Chen Yekai would carry his tray in the canteen and sit opposite Yu Hao to eat lunch with him. They would also casually chat about the progress of his part-time job and Yu Hao’s grades. Chen Yekai had a very keen sense of propriety and never mentioned the previous incident. Most of the things they talked about focused on the topic of Lin Xun.
Lin Xun was waiting for his hearing, and the time of the hearing depended on the official notice from the prosecutors.
“Did you go see him?” Yu Hao couldn’t help but ask.
“No.” Chen Yekai said, “Did you think he would tell me about the conversation he had with Ryuusei that afternoon? I think that’s impossible.”
Yu Hao also felt that Lin Xun wouldn’t tell Chen Yekai the truth, or else it would just add on to his crimes.
“Then his motive for killing Liang Laoshi……” Yu Hao whispered.
Chen Yekai said, “At present, the reason he gave the police was that after he eavesdropped on our conversation, he learned that Liang Laoshi had gathered evidence of his embezzlement and affairs and wanted to get a divorce. Because of their altercation after they got home, a conflict broke out, and he lost control, so he ended up beating her until she got a concussion. And since things had already gone that far, he thought that he might as well kill her to silence her as well.”
Yu Hao said, “How many years would he get in that case?”
“Attempted murder, we’ll try for a life imprisonment sentence.” Chen Yekai said, “The nature of the case is extremely vile, but the specifics depend on the defense lawyer. But no matter what, his social status, reputation, and benefits are all gone.”
Yu Hao stared at Chen Yekai quietly. He thought that if Chen Yekai never figured out the truth behind Ryuusei’s death, then it may never truly be over for him.
Chen Yekai knew what Yu Hao was thinking. He smiled and said, “Sometimes, one needs to wait patiently for the truth to come to light. At the very least, I will always remember this matter in my heart.”
Juurensha: ZS’ text is so sweet. (Come on, it’s basically a confession!)
Dollars: Sweet but no points from me because it’s a typical ZS sly romantic gesture that he’ll backtrack asap. Coward!
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Kum.