Age of Desolation (莽荒纪) by I Eat Tomato (我吃西红柿)]
Chapter 1 – Nether world
You all have died and became ghost so walk faster.
You’re a prince? Tens of thousands of citizens and three thousands heavy cavalry? An earthly prince is nothing in this netherworld!
Pa! (Whip slapping sfx)
A bunch of tough and malevolent looking oni soldiers were brandishing their whips on the souls. The whips were giving off sparks like lighting. In particular, the soul who just proclaimed himself to be a prince was whipped tens of times. The whipping only stopped when his soul was about to dissipate.
“I should have died. Then… this is the netherworld?” Ji Ning appeared out of thin air. He is curiously looking at this strange environment when he heard the clamors of that prince. Tens of thousands of citizens and three thousands heavy cavalry? Earth is a modern place now so how would there be three thousand heavy cavalry?
“Faster!” That burly looking minotaur soldier whose body was giving off a greenish glow growled at Ji Ning.
(TL: it says ox-head in the raws. I’m putting minotaur)
Ji Ning immediately followed the group.
Countless rows of white silhouettes arranged like long dragons. As they slowly proceed, there appear more white silhouettes out of thin air at the end of the row. Of these white silhouettes, some sigh while shaking their head, some were crying, some were cursing and some were confused.
“My father is the demon king, you dare whip me! I’d eat you! Roar!”
“Stop whipping me!”
These souls, having just arrived in the netherworld, were still thinking that they’re alive. Upon being whipped, many were still clamoring angrily. However, they soon understood after being whipped continuously… they’re already dead. No matter how great they are when they’re alive, after death they’re nothing.
As time passes, Ji Ning has been following the group for a long time now. He dared not speak for he’ll be whipped by the hose and ox-headed soldiers. This aimless walk has been going on for quite a while now. Fortunately these souls did not know hunger.
After walking aimlessly for a long time…
“Ji Ning!” A voice like the rumbling of thunder resounded. Countless souls looked up to the sky. Ji Ning also looked up. What they saw in the distant horizon was huge rolling black cloud. Standing on that black cloud is huge minotaur; his body glowing black.
This huge minotaur is so tall, his appearance is like that of a towering mountain. Riding the dark cloud, he instantly flew over from the horizon.
“Ji Ning.” Still on the black clouds, the huge minotaur shot out two golden beams out of his eyes. They flew across the sky and enveloped the confused Ji Ning.
The bottomless golden beams that were shot out from the huge minotaur surrounded Ji Ning and right away Ji Ning disappeared from the group. All the horse and ox-faced soldiers dared not utter a sound and all the souls were stupefied. Only after a long time did they begin to react.
The towering minotaur is standing on the endless dark cloud high in the sky.
He held out his hands. On his palm, like a dot, was Ji Ning.
Ji Ning is completely stupefied.
A towering minotaur was in front of him with he in his palms.
“Ji Ning.” The giant minotaur looked at the tiny dot in his palms.
“I’ve come to pick you up under the orders from Lord Cui.” The giant minotaur said to Ji Ning. Then with a wave, Ji Ning was sent to an empty space. Riding the black cloud, the giant minotaur instantly disappeared into the horizon.
Netherworld, FengDu City
[TL: apparently it’s a famous necropolis in Chinese literature.]
A quiet study room. In the room was a single bookshelf and a table in the middle. A middle aged dressed in a green robe was currently turning over the pages of a book.
Ji Ning is standing.
“Why does the Lord Cui wanted to see me?” Ji Ning ponders. He has never met this supreme ruler before. How would a mere mortal like himself know of gods? If he was powerful, then he won’t have to endure a life of suffering in his previous life. Then why did lord Cui ordered that giant minotaur to get him?
“He wanted me here so why does he not speak to me after I’m here?” Ji Ning started observing this study room.
The insides of this study room are rather simple. The only decoration on the wall is a painting.
“That is…” Ji Ning looked carefully. It is a painting of a woman. Her clothes drifting as if natural, her smile appears to make people wanting to worship her. As if instant, Ji Ning is completely immersed in this painting. This woman on the painting, whether face or hair or clothes, possess a remarkable charm.
“Oh?” The green gowned middle-aged man sitting on the table took a glance at Ji Ning. He is amazed that Ji Ning has such a perception.
Ji Ning woke up from his delusions and realized that he is in the presence of lord Cui.
At this moment, Lord Cui closed the book and looked over. Ji Ning’s face changed color right away because from where he is standing he could see the title of the book in lord Cui’s hands – Life and Death Register.
Lord Cui is reading the Life and Death Register?
“I have looked through your life.” Lord Cui looked at Ji Ning with a smile.
Ji Ning’s eyes opened wide.
Past scenes of his life flashes across his mind. His father is a project leader at a biotechnology research institute and his mother is a teacher. Born into such a family, he should be considered very lucky. However, he was born with a terminal illness. Doctors have concluded that it’d be a miracle if he managed to live till the age of fifteen or sixteen.
As such, he is unable to go to school. Nor is he able to play with peers his age. Even just walking for half an hour will tire him out. With a frail body that’s constantly in pain, he had a very lonely childhood. In addition to that, he have overheard multiple times in the hospital when others discuss that he’ll be dead in his teens. This had tormented him since youth, making him more withdrawn.
Fortunately there are books and internet.
Books and internet. They gave to him a vigor world, helping him avoid a distortion in character. Through books and internet, he searched for the knowledge of the world like a madman. Gradually, it broadened his horizons, calmed his heart and allowed him to view this world in a more rational mindset.
He found out that there are people more miserable than himself. After all, at least he still have parents, doesn’t stave nor is he without clothes.
He began to think of values in life – he can’t just wait for death like that. He figured he must accomplish something in his lifetime. So he went to his father and asked for $100,000 and started trying to accomplish something with the internet. He originally only wanted to bring some colors to his life; never did he expect that he really managed to bring forth some accomplishments.
In only a few years’ time, he has earned a massive amount of wealth.
As his incurable disease progresses he knew that he cannot live for much long. Since his parents really don’t need his care and concern, he figured that all these money lying around is a waste. Thus, before his death, he ended up donating all the money to the poor and diseased kids in the country.
“I cannot change my own destiny but I can change countless poor and sick children’s destiny!”
This is a though that reside in the bottom of Ji Ning’s heart!
When he is waiting for death after donating all his money, while having a walk outside the hospital with his parents, he died. Never did he expect that he would die in a manner like that.
“Born suffering.” Lord Cui said softly. “Suffering did not distort you. Instead, it allows you to burst forth an amazing strength, earning an huge amount of wealth. What’s even more unusual is that you actually gave all your wealth away.”
“Died at age eighteen.” Lord Cui sighed with a sorrow. “Capable of self-sacrifice. Not to mention saving a stranger. Rare indeed.”
Ji Ning said. “Lord Cui overrated me. If I had a long life, I won’t necessarily do that. At most I can live for three months. Exchanging my three month long life for a little girl’s future; it’s well worth!”
Lord Cui smiled. He then turned open the Life and Death Registry and said softly in a majestic tone. “Ji Ning, during your lifetime, you have saved tens of thousands of people. Great merit. As for the direction of your reincarnation… immortal realm. [TL: no idea, says heaven human realm…, some Buddhist shit. One of these: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desire_realm]
“Immortal realm.” Ji Ning muttered.
Lord Cui said. “To enter the immortal realm, one must have great merit. To accomplish such on Earth is even rarer than usual. Rather intentional or not, the people you helped were all children. Otherwise, you likely aren’t eligible to enter heaven.”
“Lord’s meaning is?” Ji Ning puzzled.
“There is no difference between good or evil in life.” Lord Cui said. “Children are blank slates. The ups and downs of their life cause them to gradually change… Had you help an adult, you might have helped some good people. However, it is hard to distinguish between the good and evil. Had you helped the wicked, it will instead decrease your merit.”
Ji Ning thought for a moment.
“Life and Death Registry originally set your lifespan to be only sixteen years. Only because of your merits did you live till eighteen.” Lord Cui said.
“What?” Ji Ning is shocked. “It is possible to change what is written in the Life and Death Registry?”