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Death Progress Bar (Web Novel) - Chapter 40 - Crescent Bay Island

Chapter 40 - Crescent Bay Island

This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog

Crescent Bay Island

Shi Jin said hello to the club staff on night duty and left, carrying a disposable bowl of still steaming dumplings. He headed for a military jeep parked at the entrance which stood out like a sore thumb and was impossible to miss.

Xiang Aoting got off and stood by the car, watching him approach.

Shi Jin stopped two steps away from his brother and handed him the bowl. “Here, eat it, it’s about time for supper. I made these earlier and reheated them, so they might not taste as good. Still, they’re edible.”

This stunned Xiang Aoting. His eyes dropped to the paper bowl. After a moment of hesitation, he took it and set it on the car hood. As he split the disposable chopsticks, he said, “I didn’t know you could make dumplings.”

“It’s not that difficult to learn.” Shi Jin put his hands in his pockets and watched his brother. As soon as Xiang Aoting took the cover off the bowl, Shi Jin reached out and stuffed a dumpling in his mouth. He couldn’t resist asking, “Aren’t you afraid I put laxatives in them?”

Xiang Aoting obediently opened his mouth and swallowed the dumpling. “Would you do that?”

“Of course,” Shi Jin said. “I used to think you were horrible, and I was angry at you because every time you visited me, you said I was too fat and made me exercise. I came up with a lot of pranks to play on you, but you never came. I had no chance to use any of them.”

These were the original ‘Shi Jin’s’ thoughts. Shi Jin had no qualms about saying them out loud.

Before everything broke apart, ‘Shi Jin’ was the least intimate with Xiang Aoting. ‘He’ wanted to get closer to him, but at the same time, was afraid. The original ‘Shi Jin’ was an ordinary boy. Xiang Aoting, his brave elder brother who could fly fighter planes, was pretty much how ‘he’ imagined a hero.

It was a pity this hero, in front of his youngest sibling, occasionally played the role of a villain.

Xiang Aoting said nothing in reply to Shi Jin’s words. He lowered his head, picked up another dumpling, and stuffed it into his mouth. He looked indifferent, but the slight shaking of his hands caused the soup to splash on his clothes and proved his heart wasn’t unperturbed.

“Did you know about the deal?” Shi Jin asked.

Xiang Aoting started. He swallowed the dumpling in his mouth and wiped his clothes. The white, plump dumplings in the soup suddenly made him remember the moment he first met his sixth brother.

It was in M country, in Shi Xingrui’s magnificent but desolate residence. Shi Jin was less than a year old and had just lost his mother. Held in Shi Xingrui’s arms, he looked like a fat, white dumpling. When he saw Xiang Aoting, he broke out in a wide, pure smile.

Children were innocent—this he learned in the army.

“I didn’t know.” Xiang Aoting suddenly felt unable to face Shi Jin. The dumplings he’d eaten stuck in his throat. He continued, his voice subdued, “But I guessed something. I was assigned to the best service branch, had the best instructors and the best resources. This happened every time I met with you… I didn’t know how Shi Xingrui managed it. I just hated the feeling as if I got in through the back door. Army is a place where strength speaks, and most people look down on guys who get in by pulling strings.”

Shi Jin realized something. “So that’s why you visited me less and less, and why, every time I asked, you were busy with training you couldn’t avoid and tasks you had to do.”

Xiang Aoting neither confirmed nor refuted. He stirred the soup in the bowl and asked, “Xiao Jin, do you hate us?”

“I didn’t hate anyone until after I knew the truth. Now, I hate my other brothers, but you are different. I don’t hate you,” Shi Jin answered.

Xiang Aoting’s hand on the chopsticks stiffened. He glanced at the teenager and asked in a rough tone of voice, “Why am I different?”

Shi Jin recalled the original ‘Shi Jin’s’ thoughts at the end of ‘his’ life and sighed inwardly. He said, “Because you’re a hero. Even if the hero occasionally makes a mistake, it’s fine as long as his heart stays pure and noble.”

Xiang Aoting put down the chopsticks and braced himself against the car hood. It took a long moment for him to speak, and when he did, his voice was hoarse. “I’m sorry, I guess you’re disappointed with me… No one is truly pure and noble. Certainly, from the moment we returned to that house while feigning affection, none of us was.”

It was a painful conversation. They both spoke the truth buried in their hearts and, in return, heard the truth they’d rather not hear.

Suddenly, Shi Jin didn’t want to continue anymore. He asked, “So what did you want to tell me? I need to go back and wash, we’re leaving early tomorrow.”

Xiang Aoting lowered his head. He got a hold on his emotions, straightened, and faced Shi Jin. He gazed at the teenager unblinkingly, took in his face, and squeezed out an ugly smile. “I heard you were hurt and wanted to take a look at you… It’s late, and it’s cold outside. You should go back.”

This clearly wasn’t what Xiang Aoting originally wanted to say. Shi Jin watched as he struggled to maintain his calm and decided not to tangle with him anymore—either way, he’s already said everything he wanted to say. So, he nodded to his brother, turned and walked towards the club.

After he took a few steps, Xiang Aoting’s call came from behind, so he stopped and turned to him.

“If you want, I will always be your brother,” Xiang Aoting said, with a slight, awkward smile. “Of course, it’s fine if you don’t want something like that… Xiao Jin, I’m sorry.”

“I should thank you.” Even if just for rescuing ‘Shi Jin’ in the original plot.

Shi Jin said nothing else. He turned around and continued walking towards the club. He glanced through the printed glass door—Xiang Aoting had picked up the bowl with dumplings. His eyes dropped to the floor. In a low mood, he headed for the elevator.

When he came out of the bathroom after taking a bath, he found a text message on his phone. Rong Zhouzhong sent it and, as usual, it was short and unfriendly: [Little bastard, you didn’t watch the New Year’s Gala where I appeared.]

Shi Jin stopped rubbing his hair and opened the messaging app. He recalled the original plot—it wasn’t just Rong Zhouzhong’s mouth that was poisonous, his actions were all kinds of toxic too. He texted back: [Yeah, I didn’t want to see you, you big bastard.]

Then he deleted all the messages and ignored Rong Zhouzhong’s follow-ups, laid down on the bed, wrapped himself in the quilt, and fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.

After the over twelve-hour flight, the plane landed in a coastal city in M country. Shi Jin observed his progress bar nervously and was relieved to find it didn’t rise—on the contrary, it dropped a little.

<It didn’t go up. It seems Ruixing and the country you grew in are no longer lethal factors. Leaving B City also reduced the danger,> Xiao Si said happily.

Watching the bar drop to 490, Shi Jin was happy too. He sighed with emotion: “It’s been a long time since I was this relaxed. It’s good we left.”

<Yeah, it is,> the system echoed.

Shi Jin leaned to the side in the backseat. Though he pretty much broke off relations with Shi Weichong, there was no change in the progress bar. He recalled the survival factors he’d gained from his brothers and sank into thought. In the end, he shook his head and dismissed the matter from his mind.

Whatever, it’s fine. I’m safe now.

He took a piece of toffee from his pocket, opened it, and offered it to Lian Jun. “Here, have a candy to wake up. You’ll feel great all day.”

Lian Jun, who was somewhat pale after the tiring flight, glanced at him. He caught Shi Jin’s wrist and ate the toffee from his hand, then leaned back against the car seat, closing his eyes.

Satisfied, Shi Jin retracted his hand and pulled out his phone to play mahjong.

Gua Two, watching from the driver’s seat, stopped looking in the rearview mirror and silently put a lollipop in his mouth.

The car drove all the way to a private port. Shi Jin followed everyone to a medium-sized cruise ship docked in the harbor, his eyes taking in the unfamiliar sight. He sighed in wonder. “I thought we were going to the island by helicopter. I never expected a cruise ship.”

“We could, but it would be too much of a strain on Jun-shao’s body. Gua One got a ship so we could have a good night’s sleep on board,” Gua Two explained. He eyed Shi Jin strangely. “You used to be a rich young master. Haven’t you seen a cruise ship before?”

“Uh… Of course I have, but I was always studying and didn’t have time to go play on a cruise ship.” Shi Jin tried to save his image.

Gua Two’s expression said, ‘Yeah, right, do I look mentally retarded?’ but he gave it a rest. When they came on deck, something occurred to him. “Do you get seasick? It will take us a while to arrive on the island. If you do, you’d better take some medicine right now.”

Shi Jin pondered this question for a moment and answered confidently, “I don’t. I have a good sense of balance; I heard only people with bad sense of balance get motion sickness.”

Gua Two’s eyebrows rose. No longer persuading him, he led the way to the cabins.

Ten minutes after the ship set sail, Shi Jin collapsed on the sofa in the lounge. The entire world spun.

“This doesn’t make sense!” Feeling half-dead, he covered his mouth and tried not to vomit.

Xiao Si was very sympathetic: <It’s probably because you haven’t been on a ship until now. Let me give you a buff so you’ll feel better in a moment.”

A few minutes later, Shi Jin’s nausea slowly calmed down. He thanked his “golden finger,” overwhelmed by gratitude, then found a tablet and touched a certain app icon.

So, when Gua Two returned to the lounge with a seasickness medicine, he saw Shi Jin playing mahjong, as fresh as a daisy. It was quite different from his earlier dying image.

“Mahjong also cures seasickness?” Gua Two couldn’t believe his eyes.

Uncle Long, who followed behind, glanced at the teenager, then rolled his eyes at Gua Two. He put his hands in the white coat’s pockets and strode away.

“It was Jun-shao who asked you to come, why are you rolling your eyes at me?” Gua Two asked, feeling wronged. He looked at Shi Jin, who had fun with the tablet, then at the seasickness medicine in his hand. He threw it in a trash can and stalked off in a huff.

The cruise ship dropped anchor for the duration of dinner. Shi Jin was delighted to see the sun go down. He arranged for them to eat on the deck and pushed Lian Jun’s wheelchair outside.

Lian Jun took a nap while they were underway. Now, he was much more energetic, and his mood was better. When he saw the “candlelight dinner” prepared on deck, the expression in his eyes changed slightly. He looked over his shoulder at Shi Jin. “Did you arrange it?”

“No, I asked the staff. The sea air is good for you, but the sun was too strong earlier. Now, it’s just right, and the breeze is pleasant,” Shi Jin replied as he parked the wheelchair at the table. He sat next to him instead of on the place prepared for him opposite and dragged the tableware over. “The kitchen planned the Western-style meal, with dishes served one at a time. I don’t like it because it’s just so slow, so I asked them to change it for a seafood buffet,” he said, uncovering the dish covers. “Don’t worry, it’s all what Uncle Long allowed you to eat, it won’t upset your stomach.”

The corner of Lian Jun’s mouth rose slightly. He picked up his chopsticks and said, “You’re quite considerate. How is your studying going?”

Shi Jin’s smile disappeared in an instant. He lowered his head and started to shove in food, pretending he didn’t hear.

Once that silly grin vanished, Lian Jun was satisfied. He stopped teasing the teenager and turned his attention to the excellent meal, accompanied by the cool night breeze.

By the time dinner finished—peacefully—it was dark. The table was removed, and the cruise ship set sail again. The sky filled with stars, appearing to be so close one could reach out and touch them.

“It’s been a long time since I saw such a beautiful starry sky,” Shi Jin sighed and sprawled out on a lounge chair. The fresh sea breeze, the gently rocking ship—it was like a beautiful, intoxicating dream.

Lian Jun leaned back in his wheelchair and gazed at the stars, his eyes serene. He put his hands behind his head, looking languid and carefree.

It was quiet as if the only sound in the entire world was the murmur of waves and the whisper of the wind.

Shi Jin turned his head to Lian Jun. His eyes followed the movement of the night breeze and swept over the man’s fluttering, jet black hair and the hem of his sleeves. Then, they slowly moved down, peeking inside the robe blown open by the wind.

“What are you looking at?” The question asked in a low, gentle voice broke the silence.

Shi Jin, as if caught in some sort of spell, blurted out, “I want to see if you’re wearing pants. The wind blows so hard that if you aren’t, I’ll be able to see your legs.”

Lian Jun: “……”

Shi Jin, whose brain caught up to his mouth: “……”

Xiao Si, the captive audience: <……>

The warm atmosphere burst like a soap bubble.

Stiff, Shi Jin looked up at Lian Jun, stammering out, “No, it’s… I mean, I’m curious, you only wear robes, I’ve never seen you in other clothes. Is it to look good? Well, it really does look good on you…” He didn’t forget to flatter.

However, Lian Jun didn’t feel flattered. He looked at Shi Jin expressionlessly, covered his legs with a thin blanket, and said, “It’s because, for people who have trouble walking, robes are more convenient to put on and take off, and don’t have so many complicated buttons and zippers—it saves a lot of time.” Then, he turned the wheelchair around and left the deck.

That simple answer stunned Shi Jin.

Xiao Si said in disbelief, <JinJin, you thought Darling is dressing like this because he’s vain? You’re too superficial!>

Shi Jin put his feet on the lounge chair and hugged his knees, hiding his face in them. He was ashamed of himself. The only explanation he could give was that he watched a bit too much anime in middle school and sometimes, his imagination ran riot.

In the early morning hours, when the ship docked at the port, Shi Jin was sleeping like a pig, not even stirring. Not bothering to wake him up, Gua One and others disembarked to arrange things on the island.

By the time the teenager left his cabin, it was already bright. The ship was already empty except for Gua Two who sat in the lounge, waiting to take him to the island.

In the mild breeze, Shi Jin walked to the railing and looked at the magnificent, crescent-shaped island surrounded by cerulean waters. He couldn’t help but whistle. “It’s beautiful. What’s that there in the bay, a water scooter?”

“You have good eyes, it really is the water scooter. I’ll take you to play with it later,” Gua Two said. “There are many fun things to do on our island. If nothing unexpected happens, from today to the end of March is our vacation time. We can enjoy ourselves to our heart’s content.”

This pulled Shi Jin’s attention from the island back to the man. “Only until the end of March? Do we have some work in April?”

“Not work, there’s a legal underworld organizations’ conference. Every April, the government officials check and re-register all the major underworld organizations in China, then discuss with their leaders the cleanup of the illegal ones. Jun-shao has to attend personally, and stare at the underworld side to make them behave,” Gua Two explained as he led the way off the ship.

Shi Jin followed him, asking, “Where’s the meeting place? In China?”

“No, on the high seas. The government moves a large cruise ship there, and everyone boards it. You know, even if the underworld organization is legal, people in our line of work can’t help but worry that the officials will take advantage of the occasion to catch all of us in one net. They’d never agree to gather on land.”

Shi Jin nodded in understanding. He glanced at Lian Jun’s progress bar which went back to 500 after Chen Qing’s rescue and inwardly drew a big red mark on April’s calendar.

Lian Jun’s island was called Crescent Bay Island, after its shape. It was privately owned and surrounded by the sea, so there was no need to worry about sneak attacks. Because of this, everyone’s attitude became more relaxed, not as tense and cautious as in B City and Y Province.

The place they would live in was a complex of buildings at the center of the island. It included three huge villas, a large viewing deck, big and small swimming pools, three dining halls with separate kitchens serving food of different styles, a gym, a shooting range, a multifunctional building, tennis and basketball courts, and a multimedia entertainment building.

Shi Jin was like a country bumpkin on his first visit to a big city. As he looked around listening to Gua Two’s introduction, he exclaimed inwardly—the happiness of the rich was beyond the imagination of ordinary people. This place was a paradise compared with Flowery Orchard and the club in B City!

“This is where we live, there are different recreation areas in the other parts of the island. Later, you can get the map and take the sightseeing minibus to check them out, just remember to ask Gua Six to give you a pass card,” Gua Two finished and led Shi Jin into the largest villa in the middle.

Shi Jin woke up. “Gua Six?”

Gua Two remembered Shi Jin hadn’t seen Gua Six before, and explained, “Gua Six is this island’s administrator. Every year, he comes to take care of things and spend the winter with Jun-shao, but because Jun-shao stayed in B City a little longer this time, he too came later, and we just missed him. He has a gentle character and takes care of the logistics and such. I’ll introduce you in a while.”

Shi Jin nodded. The two walked through the comfortable but elegantly decorated villa lobby and ascended the wooden staircase.

The second floor of the villa was large. There were two spacious master bedrooms with an excellent view, a few study rooms, a small living room, and a comfortably arranged terrace with swinging reclining chairs.

Gua Two took Shi Jin into one of the master bedrooms. He pointed to the wardrobe and said, “The new clothes for you are here. Look around the room by yourself and call me if anything’s missing, I have something I need to do now.” Then, he went to leave.

Shi Jin stopped him and asked, “Where do you live, next door? It looks like there are only two rooms on this floor, where are the others living, on other floors? What about Jun-shao?”

He’d subconsciously concluded Gua Two was his neighbor—that first question wasn’t asked in a questioning tone at all.

Gua Two glanced at him with a strange expression. He kept silent for a moment, then said, “The first and third floor of this villa is empty. I live in the villa on your left—if you call me from the terrace, I’ll hear it in my room. You have a flatmate, but it’s not me.”

Surprised, Shi Jin asked, “Then who? Gua Nine?”

Gua One, Gua Three, and Gua Five usually lived close to Lian Jun because they helped him to deal with Annihilation’s matters, so he automatically excluded them.

Gua Two gave him a profound look and deliberately kept him in suspense: “No, it’s not Gua Nine. You’ll know when you meet him. Now, unpack and put your things away, I really need to go take care of something.” He turned around and walked out of the door.

Shi Jin watched him leave, wondering about this neighbor business, but quickly forgot about it and threw himself on the soft, bouncy bed. He happily rolled around on it and looked at the splendid panorama behind the windows.

“This really is a paradise,” he sighed, contented. Remembering he hadn’t seen Lian Jun since yesterday, he glanced at the time. It was already breakfast time, he pulled out his phone, made a call, and waited for it to connect. “Jun-shao, where are you? Have you eaten breakfast?” He asked.

{Did you get off the ship?} The sound of running water accompanied Lian Jun’s question.

“Yeah, Gua Two just showed me to my room. Where are you, Jun-shao? If you haven’t had breakfast, let’s eat together.”

The phone was silent for a moment, then there came a sound of a door opening, at the same time when the door to Shi Jin’s room was pushed open. Lian Jun appeared at the entrance, still holding his phone, and said, “I’m here, you—”

Shocked, Shi Jin twisted around and stared at him with wide eyes.

They looked at each other in consternation.

Lian Jun was dumbstruck. He looked at Shi Jin lying on the bed, whose clothes rolled up when he tossed about, and now revealed his waist. He blinked, then moved his eyes away, backed off, and closed the door. His voice came from the still connected phone: {Get dressed, then we’ll go to the dining hall for breakfast.}

Shi Jin looked at the door, looked at his phone, and jumped out of bed. He ran to the door and threw it open. “Jun-shao, how did you come so fast, are you…”

Lian Jun eyed his messy clothes. He turned around and returned to his room, slamming the door in front Shi Jin’s nose. {I told you to get dressed, why did you come out looking like that?} His voice came from the phone once again.


Shi Jin studied the door before him, then turned to glance at the one behind, and silently changed the question he was going to ask into a declarative sentence: “So you are my flatmate.” This was the nearest they ever lived to each other.

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