Fanatical

Fangirling Chinese Novels

Life: A Black and White Film (一生一世,黑白影画) — Chapter 15.1

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Birthday week day 5 of 7. Happy Lunar New Year from Peanuts and me to all of our readers! Wishing health and joy to you and your loved ones in this Year of the Dog!

So abruptly, he’s gone. Did he leave anything behind? And what about Wen Han’s suspicions of Cheng Jiayi?

Chapter 15.1 — From Hell it Came, as Hell it shall Stay (1)

This story was translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. All forms of reproduction, redistribution, or reposting are not authorized, except by linking to hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the copy is unauthorized and has been taken without consent of the translator.

 

That night, torrential rain fell from the sky.

This great storm was heavier than any of the rainfalls she had seen when she was in Nepal.

As a result of the rainstorm, Wen Han and Meng Liangchuan were left stuck on the second floor of a little restaurant. It was a very narrow space on the second floor, and there were only two small tables that the owner had squeezed in there to try to scrape in a bit more business.

“Did you know? Since entering Nepal and all the way until today, in my memory, if it hasn’t been a rainy day, then it’s been a cloudy day. I feel like all the rain that I may see in my entire lifetime has already been seen here.” There had been very few days of clear skies. It was just like Cheng Muyun and the type of person he was. The times where he was relaxed and laidback were very few. Most of the time, he was indecipherable.

“Miss Wen Han, you came at a bad time and were just in time to catch the rainy season here.” Having found some hard-to-come-by, decent-tasting meat in India, Meng Liangchuan ordered two orders of it.

Through the rain-splattered glass of the second level, Wen Han could see that there were not really any people on the street outside anymore. Rubbing her hair with the clean towel that she had bought, she pulled out the protection amulet that was around her neck.

Meng Liangchuan had always had astonishingly keen observation skills. “You never wore this thing in Nepal, right?”

Her head bowed, Wen Han squeezed that amulet that was in her hands and shook her head.

“Cheng Muyun gave it to you?” Meng Liangchuan continued to press, perceiving something. All of Wen Han’s bags had been left in Nepal, and she had no possessions on her, so for such a thing to suddenly appear on her meant that there was a ninety-nine percent chance it had come from that man.

Her heart skipping half a beat, Wen Han answered in a low voice, “Yes, he was the one who gave it to me, but he said nothing.” As she spoke, her voice grew tight. How could she have forgotten that there was still this thing?

“May I have a look?”<>Please support the original translation of this story at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

Wen Han set it on the table and slowly pushed it over to him.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.

Picking it up, Meng Liangchuan first looked over the design on it. It was very ordinary, just one of those protection amulets that were often found in temples. His brows came together as recalled for a moment. “This amulet seems to be from the temple beside this restaurant.” He had stayed here for so many days already and had collected a lot of information and facts. Useful information, useless information, all of it had been branded into his mind.

“That day… I went into the temple to burn some incense. He waited outside for me, and then once I came out, he gave me this.” Wen Han’s heart was beating more and more rapidly. “If you open it up, inside, it’s actually not a protection amulet. It’s like some sort of rootstalk of a plant.”

Meng Liangchuan nodded and, loosening the drawstring, very carefully pulled out that small object.

Facing the light, he looked it over and then also brought it up in front of his nose to take a sniff. His eyes narrowed slightly. “It appears to be a Chinese herb.”

“Chinese herb?” Wen Han was surprised.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

She had actually never even thought of that.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

“There is an old Indian man nearby. He lived in China in the past for more than ten years and is a doctor.” Meng Liangchuan searched through the data in his mind. “No, that’s not quite right. He can’t be considered a doctor. You know that the underprivileged people in India are extremely poor and don’t really go to see the doctor. This old man frequently collects any unused, basic types of drugs and medications from the homes of rich people, and then after sorting them, he will give them to the poor for free. I remember he even collected Chinese herbs before because some of the rich really believe in Chinese medicine.”<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.

Meng Liangchuan’s words had already been very clear and understandable.

Wen Han, therefore, did not delay, and after hurriedly paying the bill for their meal, the two of them braved the heavy downpour. Along the rain-deluged streets, they searched according to the information stored in Meng Liangchuan’s head for that old Indian man’s “assistance and relief station.”

Dirty water was flowing everywhere. Rainwater washed over the dirt until there was simply no place to step.

Meng Liangchuan did not feel anything at all toward this type of poor, dirty environment, and as he was also wearing military boots, he trodded forward with large strides. Because he was too impatient about wanting to know what exactly was this thing that Cheng Muyun had left behind, he was moving swiftly and could not attend at all to the woman behind him.

Wen Han was dressed in a cheap raincoat. The sneakers on her feet were completely covered in mud, and her pants were totally soaked as well.

In the end, when they found that so-called “assistance and relief station,” the old Indian man was long asleep. Wakened by Meng Liangchuan’s knocking, he drowsily went and opened the door. When he saw the two people who were utterly drenched in rain and muddy water, he muttered something in the local language that the two could not understand whatsoever.

Wen Han’s heart gave a quiver and then sank into a valley bottom. Her thoroughly sodden clothes clung to her thighs and calves, and when coupled with the chilling wind, she could not control her body from shivering with cold. Still, though, she clutched that old man’s hand tightly, asking desperately in English, “Do you know what this is? Did an ethnic Chinese man buy it from you? Did he? Have you seen a Chinese man?”<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.

Over and over.

The old man shook his head dazedly.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

Wen Han’s eyes tingled. As if she could not wait and had to know the answer right away, she frantically grasped his wrist.

“Just wait. Wait.” Meng Liangchuan told her quietly, “Let me go out and find someone who knows English.” After saying this, Meng Liangchuan rushed back into the curtain of rain.

He returned shortly with the driver of a three-wheeler.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com 

That Indian man was put in charge of translating what the two of them were saying. The old man finally understood. Carefully holding up the little object that Wen Han had stuffed into his palm, he looked it over again and again, then nodded his head.

“He said he knows what this is,” the person translating said with a strong Indian accent.

“What is it?!”<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com

“Live alone.” The Indian stated these two English words.

“Live alone?” Wen Han repeated baffledly.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

“Yes… Yes, ‘live alone.’” Everything suddenly became clear to Meng Liangchuan. “It is ‘Du Huo.’ This Chinese herb is called ‘Du Huo[1].’ [herb name is Du Huo, but ‘du huo’ also means ‘live alone’].”

Du Huo… Live alone… Live alone.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.

In that instant, her entire body became hot.

Her blood streamed madly inside her. Instantly, this entire day’s feelings of restlessness and helplessness evaporated from her without a trace. It was Du Huo; it was “live alone”! Cheng Muyun had known long ago that all these things of today would happen. He had arranged this! He had arranged all of it! If not, he would not have left this thing behind to tell her that, alone, she was to keep living!

Her whole body trembling, Wen Han suddenly gripped Meng Liangchuan’s hand fiercely. “I told you that he isn’t dead, that he wouldn’t just die! No one has the ability to make him die! He gave me this a long time ago because he was afraid I would worry, right?”

As a result of her intensely stirred emotions, her nails were digging into Meng Liangchuan’s wrist.

Meng Liangchuan was somewhat baffled. “Wait, wait, say it slowly. What do you mean? You’re saying he gave you this thing way back when in order to tell you that he’s alive?”

“It must be!”<>Please support the original translation of this story at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

“But, Miss Wen Han, have you thought of another possibility? He knew that he could die at any time in India, so he left this thing for you that, after his death, could give you comfort.” Of course, stating such an explanation was something even Meng Liangchuan could not take.

He reckoned, this action of leaving behind a love token after his death was something that that man would not be able to make himself do.

“That’s impossible. Do you think that if he’s dead, this kind of thing here can give me any comfort? Other than him still being alive, nothing can give me comfort! He specially gave me this simply because he wanted to tell me, to tell me that he and I both have to…”

Wen Han’s chest was heaving, and she was gasping for air with all her might. She wanted to calm herself, but she simply could not find her composure. Leaving behind some sort of thing to provide consolation was not something Cheng Muyun would do at all. If he were to die, he would simply die and absolutely would not leave behind all these complicated things that beat around the bush.

If he specifically left this Du Huo—this “live alone”—behind, then it must be for such a situation, to tell her in a way where no one was even aware, I will not die. And you must continue to live your life, alone.

Darling, perhaps we will never see one another again, but at least you and I are both still alive.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.

An umbrella lay at the entrance to a rundown little building.

A person wearing a poncho bent at the waist and removed that poncho. Her eyes somewhat red, she gazed upon the empty corridor before her.

Pitch black. Bereft of light.<>This UNAUTHORIZED copy was taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com 

The strident downpour outside seemed to highlight even more the quietness in this place.

For some reason, it felt a little frightening.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

She softly pulled in a breath, then slowly released it, pressing the back of her hand briefly against her stinging eyes. Along that corridor, she walked until she reached the very end and then, for the first time, stepped up those stairs that led to the second floor. Soon, the view before her opened up. In that open, second-level space, other than the stark, austere furnishings, there were no other unnecessary items at all.

There was only that one bed in the far corner, with items along the lines of blankets and bedding stacked on it.

In the middle were a long table and a few wooden chairs, while a corner held a shelf and a few cabinets.

She was in the room gathering and packing things for a long time, putting all the things, aside from furniture, that Cheng Muyun had once used or come into contact with into the large plastic bag that she had brought. When she was heading back downstairs, there was the sound of movement up ahead of her, on the left.

It was evident that strange sound was the type produced only when these already somewhat-aged floorboards were bearing heavy weight on them.

Surprised, she paused her steps at the head of the stairs—

From the first floor, a figure slowly walked up, its tall shape concealed within the shadows. Enshrouded within the chilling dimness, that shadowy outline emitted a familiar and dangerous aura…

Icy coldness instantly came over her entire body.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

“My dear little sister.” That person who, with his right thumb hooked on his belt, was walking up the stairs unhurriedly stepped out from the shadows. “How I wish you had brought candles, incense sticks, and paper money here to have a memorial for me and mourn my passing and had not come empty-handed, attempting to find something here.”

Cheng Jiayi’s whole body froze. She dared not move even the tip of her finger in the slightest.

Apart from him, who else could strike fear like this into her? It was that man, the one who had held her in his arms since she was young, the one whose name was buried in the most confidential files of the Moscow operations team, the one who, only five hours ago, had been system-wide reported as dead.

There was neither muddy water nor rainwater on Cheng Muyun.

That meant that, after she walked that entire way along the corridor earlier, she had been under his gaze as she strode up these stairs. Cheng Jiayi clenched that plastic bag that she held and took half a step backwards…

“What is wrong? This is not the first time I have escaped death.” Cheng Muyun took two steps forward. From the shadows, the full view of his face was revealed. There was no light in those black eyes, but there was mirth. “You are very surprised?”<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.

At age six, with his own hands, he had used a dagger to skin a tiger that his elders had hunted. He had been covered in blood, and that tiger skin had been removed without any damage or flaws—a whole, complete tiger skin. This was the very first knowledge Cheng Jiayi had had of her elder cousin-brother, a description heard from her family members…

And also, the first time Cheng Jiayi held a gun, she had been flustered and had misfired, striking him in the leg. He had not even wrinkled his brow, but she had been so frightened she did not dare touch a gun for half a month after.

And so many other things—<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

Those things of Cheng Muyun’s past, things that had to do with Cheng Jiayi and ones that did not, all coursed up into her mind, like a sudden avalanche of snow that had accumulated in the high mountains, a horrific, surging white wave sweeping over and crushing every inch of her nerves… She feared him, a fear that was rooted deep, entrenched into her very bones and blood.

“I just came to gather your belongings…” Her voice was soft, and she forced herself to keep her back straight.

“Shh… Think it through before you say anything.” He used Russian, the language most familiar to her since she was a child, to tell her in a low tone, “Think it through before you say anything.”

“I wanted… to find evidence, leads, to find who killed you.” Cheng Jiayi’s fists were balled tightly. Her eyes stung, and there was a slight tremor in her body that she could not repress. “Cheng Muyun, you cannot, cannot suspect me like this… You suspect me, don’t you?”

The man in front of her did not speak. His eyes were cast downwards, gazing completely without emotion at her from on high.

Eyeing Cheng Jiayi over, as if he did not even know her.

She swore, her mind was going to break down.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead

Cheng Jiayi’s whole body was shivering as she helplessly, in Russian, called him “Big Brother.” Her leg muscles were weak and sore and could not support her. Staggeringly, she drew backwards, but due to the height of the stairsteps, she toppled over and slid rapidly down several steps.

It was this instant where she felt as if she could see a chance at life. Allowing momentum to take her downward, she rolled and tumbled onto the concrete floor of the first level.

But before she could crawl back up, he had picked her up by the back of her shirt collar. Twisting her right arm behind her, he thrust her forcefully into the wall.

“What gave you the courage?” Cheng Muyun leaned in close to her. “You thought you could escape?”

“I was wrong, Big Brother…” Shudders racked Cheng Jiayi’s body.

With everything in her, she tried to suppress them, but still she quivered uncontrollably, and tears ceaselessly surged out. “I swear, I swear, I honestly did not hurt Zhuang Yan in any way. And I had nothing to do with that explosion that was to harm you. I swear, I honestly did not kill them.”

“Of course it was not you.” He moved in close beside the back of her ear. “I did those.”<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.

[1] 独活 “du huo.” The name of this Chinese herb is Du Huo. It is also known as angelica pubescens root or Angelica Du Huo. However, the Chinese characters of its name, 独活 “du huo” literally mean “live alone.”

Du Huo root (image credit: Baidu Baike)

 

This story was translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. All forms of reproduction, redistribution, or reposting are not authorized, except by linking to hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the copy is unauthorized and has been taken without consent of the translator.

Completed:
1 of 1 Prologue
45 of 50 Chapter segments
0 of 1 Epilogue

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14 thoughts on “Life: A Black and White Film (一生一世,黑白影画) — Chapter 15.1

  1. Thank you so much! Happy Lunar Year to u and your family. 😘😘😘

  2. Uwaaaah plot twist

  3. In the end, WH really understood CMY. Can only wait till tomorrow for the explanation ;X

  4. Yaaay! CMY is alive..
    Thanks for the chappie again and Happy Lunar New Year!

    • Haha. It’s nice to see him back, isn’t it? Even if it isn’t exactly in a happy setting. 😦
      You’re welcome! And Happy Lunar New Year!

  5. Nice of CMY to leave message for Wen Han and I hope the opposite of it happens and they live together. Waiting to hear what really happened.

    Thank you for the chapter and Happy Lunar New Year 🙂.

  6. Yeayy he’s back !! Thank you. .. gong xie fa choi … 😉

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