The Line between a Devil and an Angel
This story follows the adventures of a boy, Chen Long, as he grows up in a alternate reality world that mirrors Earth but is filled with monstrous beasts, demons, undead, saints and immortals. In his youth, he is pure and relatively innocent, but as he and the community he cared about is continuously exposed to dangers, he finds his innocence lost, and his personality changed.
Why does immortals stop caring about their family and love ones and cut off all ties to the secular world? At what point did he become a man who killed another without regards to their lives? At what point does a good man looked into the mirror and see himself as a demon? Can a man who walked the path of a demon redeem himself or is his soul lost forever? It seems if heaven has a heart, it will also be tired.
Chapter 1: A Thirst for Learning. (Part A)
At the foot of a mountain range is a small valley, with a river flowing through it. Near the valley is a massive lush forest, and roars of various beasts will echo throughout the valley from time to time. It is already spring, but there still remains trace of snow on the mountain range, and on the roads.
In the intersection of the mountains, the river and the edge of the forest is a small village, consisting of about 40 wooden huts, and surrounded by a wall of timber. The village is named Thames Valley Village.
Thames Valley Village is pretty self sufficient – food are fished from the river, meat are hunted from the forest, and occasional fruits are abundant in the forest. Wood for making huts are all around and there are even metal ores from the mountains. The natives of Thames Valley Village have little contact with the outside world, other than once a year, where the hunters will travel to GuangZhou City to trade for other needed products or materials. As a result, there is little contact with the outside world.
A loud thud reverberated within the village near the hunter’s lodge, as an arrow embedded itself in the middle of an archery target.
The hunter’s lodge is located at the edge of the village, near the forest. This place, like all others, is made up of of a wooden hut. At the entrance to the hut is a sign board, but it has no words on it. Instead, a picture of a bow with a quiver of arrows is engraved on the sign board. The hut itself consists of a bowyer and fletcher store, selling bows and arrows. Behind the hut is a massive courtyard. In the courtyard is a table full of arrows, where a group of young men gather. At one end of the courtyard are targets that are used for archery practice.
The hunters will test their bows each morning to make sure it is working before heading off , as well as to compare archery skills before heading to the forest to hunt. It has become a daily practice for them, because a faulty bow means no food for them or their family.
A short distance from them, a few people are observing the hunters, and among them, an elderly man has an exceptionally sharp gaze. He is the archery instructor in the village, and the owner of the village’s only bowyer and fletcher store. While he is too old to hunt and his hearing is not what it used to be, he has exceptional eyesight and his archery skills are top notched within the village. As well the bows and arrows he made are of exceptional quality. It is for this reason that he is an elder within the village, and most of the hunters cheerfully offer him a portion of their catch in return for creating new arrows for the hunters to hunt.
“Oh…. Archery… How cool!” exclaimed a small, cute voice coming from behind. The hunters and the elder turned and saw a young woman walking towards the archery range with a small child in her arms.
The lady had smooth, flowing black hair with a hint of lavender scent that reached to her waist. Her hair swayed in the wind as she walked, leaving a bright fragrant scene of lavender behind her. She had gentle brown eyes, pale white skin, and looked very young, between the age of 18 to 20. Despite her young age, she was already married and had a child.
The lead hunter broke into a smile at the sight of woman and child. The other hunters might have been shocked at the sight, for the lead hunter is well known within the village to be a serious person and very strict with his team of hunters. But it is not surprising to see the smile, for which man can resist smiling in the face of their wife?
“Chun Xue, to what do I own the pleasure of this visit? It is rare to see you visit the bowyer.”
“I just wanted Chen Long to see his father’s workplace, and what his father do, so I made a detour from our usual stroll.”
“I see. Well, Chen Long, what do you think of Dad’s job?” The man smile at the kid that was held by his wife and asked. But the child did not seem to hear the man, and was staring intently at the bows and waving his hands. His eyes seem to shine with a bright passion as he looked at the group of young hunters practicing their archery skills.
“Eh, he doesn’t seem to be listening…”
The man smiled as he patted his 3 years old son’s head. The son had inherited his mother’s adorable features — black silky smooth hair, an oval face exactly like his mother’s when she was young, and a pair of bright brown eyes. His sharp gaze showed a hint of his paternal heritage.
“Ohhhh, Chen Long, you are paying more attention to the archery range than your own father, just like a boy. Do you really like archery so much?”
“I heard that lots of kid dream of being a hunter, Chen Long seems to think so too.”
Both parents smiled as they watched Chen Long display his curiosity for this boyish interest. He was so cute. The little boy watched the scene excitedly while waving his arms and legs, unfazed with being the center of attention. He focused on the training ground without blinking, displaying his exceptional concentration . The man rubbed his son’s soft hair for a while but gave up after getting no reaction.
“You really like it huh. How is it? Chen Long, this is a bow and this is an arrow. This is what we use to hunt for food”.
The child seemed to acknowledge the words of the man for the first time, repeating his words with a slur unique to toddlers as he fell deep into thought. The man smiled bitterly after seeing his child behave this way and returned to his post after conversing with his wife for a while. On the training ground, the hunters finished their practice and were preparing to go hunting
Suddenly the child said “Hunt ….. Food….. Hungry…..”. And a small rumbling sound growl from his stomach.
“Right, let’s return home. We need to prepare breakfast and wait for daddy to return.”
The lady coaxed the child who kept looking back, reluctant to go. They were going home.
“Hunt….. Food …”
The child in her arms watched the hunters entering the forest until they were out of sight.
The child’s full name, referred to as Chen Long, was the son of Chen Gong, a hunter, borne by his mother, Chun Xue .
It had been three years since his birth. This was the age when a child forms his sense of self, a period when they become playful. But Chen Long was very sensible. He understood his parents from an early age and was well behaved.
“You really like archery. don’t you? Why don’t we ask daddy to teach you how to use the bow and arrow when he comes back from work?”
“Ok” exclaimed the child in earnest.
“But first you must eat, and grow strong, or you will not be able to use the bow. The bow requires a lot of strength to pull.”
“Yes, mum!”, exclaimed the child. Filled with new resolve, Chen Long gobbled up all the rice on his plate, and even ate the vegetables that he do not like. His mother smiled at the obedient little boy. After eating, he helped his mum wash the plates. Chen Long’s exemplary behaviour pleased his mum.
After breakfast, Chun Xue and Chen Long were in the study. The study was filled with simple but practical wooden furniture that was kept clean and tidy. The shelves in the study room were filled with all sorts of literature, including picture books for children.
Chun Xue sat on the couch in the room, resting the tiny Chen Long on her lap, reading the picture book slowly to him. She spoke clearly and calmly. Chen Long, who was enjoying this yesterday, listened for some time before he started to fidget. He called out to his mother:
“What is it Chen Long? You don’t like this book?”
Chun Xue tilted her head, but Chen Long’s next words dispelled her confusion.
“I like books… But, I want to know more about hunting animals!”
Chun Xue set the book aside and studied Chen Long’s expression. Looking at his bright eyes filled with curiosity and joy, she couldn’t turn him down.
“Ara ara, I see. Although it is still early for you Chen Long, if you want to be a hunter, you have to first master archery.”
“Hunter… how do I become a hunter?”
“Let’s see, you need to read many books and practice archery. Right, let your daddy teach you about hunting. How about reading your favourite book about the different types of beast okay?”
Chen Long finally focused back to the book. Chun Xue rubbed his head lovingly, took out a book related to animal, and read it to him slowly. Chen Long was enchanted with the picture book, showing the illustration of various monstrous beasts. He listened to the story that was simple enough for a child to understand excitedly, and tried his hardest to remember the characteristics of each monstrous beast.
Chen Long imagined himself as a mighty hunter who hunted various beasts to bring back lots of food. Since he achieved his sense of self, he craved eating meat a lot. However, hunting was a tough occupation, and during the preceding winter, there was often no meat to be had. While the rice filled his belly, it is incomparable to the taste of meat. In addition, sometimes the hunters became the hunt, as the various beasts in the forest and mountains can easily cripple or kill a careless hunter.
He wanted to be a successful hunter like his father, no matter what and the sooner the better. To achieve this, he needed to use his mindset to his advantage and achieve all he could within his power. He prepared a schedule for training himself to be a successful hunter in the future in his mind, but for now, he listened quietly to the story. Like all children who aspire for greatness, he dreamt of being a mighty hunter, and caught massive monstrous beasts in legends.
After lunch, Chen Long took a short nap. There was a brief period of peace in the house.
Suddenly the peace was shattered by a loud yell – “Master Hunter!” Chen Long seemed to have dreamt of something he kicked off his blanket and leapt up from bed. He was unaware of his mother laughing because of his yell. Chen Long looked around him, realized he was in the bedroom, and climbed back into bed.
He was too excited last night and couldn’t sleep. Instead, he lay in a dreamlike state, smiling in his bed.
[Continued in next post..]
The continuation of this series, and subsequent chapters can be found at http://youjinsite.com/about-the-story/
About the authors:
This story is a collabouration between two deaf men.
Fruits and Veggies is the author. He had applied to numerous publishers with his manuscripts of over 50 chapters and was unsuccessful in his efforts to get a publisher.
Fruttelimsg is the translator, co-author and the author's best friend.