Magical Exchange Short Stories
Original novel written by: 御我 (Yu Wo)
The Melancholy of Jealousy—translated by Minna (proofread by Trespasserby & Arcedemius; C/E edited by lucathia)
On the high school’s track field was a group of lively teenage girls.
“Lü Zi, don’t run so quickly!” Ma Sheng tried hard to keep up with the girl in front of her.
“You’re just too slow,” Lü Zi shouted back toward the girl who had fallen far behind her.
“Ma Sheng just can’t run that fast,” Ma Sheng whined, her originally high-class, beautiful air immediately changing to a pretty and cute one.
But no matter what, she is still very beautiful and attractive. This line of thought flashed through Lü Zi’s mind. Compared to the beautiful and tall Ma Sheng, Lü Zi, with a face full of pimples and her naturally dark skin, couldn’t seem to compare at all.
“Who told you to slack off from practicing?” As Lü Zi spoke, she couldn’t help but feel happy on the inside because track and field was the only thing she could beat Ma Sheng at. She and Ma Sheng had been friends since elementary school, had gone to the same middle school later on, and were even attending the same high school, so naturally they were very close. Since elementary school, Ma Sheng had already been a beauty. Now that they were in high school, she had grown even more beautiful. Her admirers could surely fill the whole track field. Lü Zi had always been Ma Sheng’s best friend, and Ma Sheng was also… Lü Zi’s good friend. Alright! Saying that she wasn’t jealous would be a lie, but it was okay. At least she still had track and field, the only place she could excel over Ma Sheng. Out on the field, Lü Zi was always the most confident.
After school ended, Lü Zi and Ma Sheng walked home together like they always did.
“Lü Zi, are you confident about what we had for math today? I thought it was quite easy. There were many questions on it I helped review with you. The teacher only changed them up a little bit,” Ma Sheng said happily.
“Ehm.. Yeah sure!” Lü Zi replied with a guilty conscience. She basically hadn’t understood practically half the questions. She was going to get a failing mark again.
“Lü Zi, I have to tell you something!” Ma Sheng suddenly reddened. “But please, don’t tell anyone else.”
Curious, Lü Zi stopped. “What is it? You can tell me!” She waited impatiently to hear the new gossip.
“Today, Xia confessed to me, and I… said yes.” She stopped for a moment, and asked urgently, “You don’t mind, do you? Because you also like him very much.”
It was as if a loud “bang” rang inside her head—Lü Zi felt her world collapse. Xia, whom she had secretly liked since elementary school, had confessed to Ma Sheng, her best friend. She almost didn’t know how to react. But Ma Sheng kept pulling on her arm, saying that she hadn’t done it on purpose, that she also liked Xia, and that Xia had confessed to her, which was the reason why she… Lü Zi didn’t want to hear any more of her words; she only wanted to cry. She nodded her head without thinking.
“You don’t mind anymore?” Ma Sheng asked, doubtful.
Lü Zi nodded her head again numbly.
“I’m so relieved.”
The moment she returned to her room, she finally started to cry loudly. Why? Why was everything she ever wanted always snatched away by Ma Sheng? She really hated Ma Sheng right then, hated her so much that she wished for her death. If Ma Sheng were dead, everything would be great. Then, she wouldn’t have to be the small wallflower at Ma Sheng’s side anymore. That’s right! If Ma Sheng were dead…
“Lü Zi, can you go buy some salt? I want to cook, but there isn’t any salt left.” Her mom’s voice suddenly sounded from downstairs.
Lü Zi hurriedly wiped her tears away. “O.K.!”
After she bought the salt, Lü Zi walked back in a daze. She was lost in her thoughts. On one hand, she scolded herself for having the terrible thought of killing Ma Sheng, but on the other hand, it was truly tempting…
Suddenly, without conscious thought, she lifted her head, and what flooded her view was a peculiar shop. “God ‘n Devil”—the antique shop sign only had those three words. The whole shop was some sort of little wooden cottage, a rare, black one.
“What an extraordinary shop. When did it open? Is it an antique shop?” The shop had an unusual attractive quality, as if it were calling out to her to come in. Lü Zi eyed the bag of salt in her hand, and thought, A short glimpse shouldn’t be a problem, right?
Lü Zi lightly pushed the door open. “Is anyone here? Can I have a look around?”
“Of course you can. Please come in, my dear young lady.” A deep, alluring voice replied to Lü Zi.
As she stepped into the store, a nefariously handsome man entered her vision. His hair was a deep black, his eyes as red as wine, and he wore a smile on his lips as though he were mocking the world. He was leisurely sitting by the table.
“Please sit down, young lady.” He waved his hands, motioning for Lü Zi to sit down. “Do you like coffee?” He didn’t wait for Lü Zi to reply, and poured her a cup of coffee.
“Excuse me…” As it was her first time seeing such a handsome man, Lü Zi’s voice was as small as a mosquito’s.
“My name is Devil Chaos, and I am one of the owners of the God ‘n Devil Magical Exchange,” Devil Chaos answered Lü Zi before she could ask, wearing his enchanting smile throughout.
“Magical Exchange?” She had only ever heard of the stock exchange and had always thought that exchanges were supposed to be in skyscrapers. Are there exchange markets located in small wooden houses?
“That’s right. We’re very different from the stock exchange! The focus of our business is to grant the innermost desires of our customers.” He stopped for a moment, wearing a very mysterious smile. “It doesn’t matter what you wish for. We will grant it.”
She didn’t know why, but Lü Zi remembered her thoughts of wanting to kill Ma Sheng. Furthermore, the desire seized her more and more. Right then, she practically wished to see Ma Sheng lying before her, dripping with blood.
“Do you have anything you would like to entrust me?” The enticing voice swayed Lü Zi’s heart even more. “You only have to sign this contract, and Devil Chaos will help you accomplish it.” A piece of parchment and a quill pen had appeared on the table at some unknown point.
“I…” Lü Zi took the quill without thinking. She was about to recklessly sign her name…
“Devil Chaos! Oh, we have a customer.” A warm and soothing voice made Lü Zi freeze.
Lü Zi lifted her head and looked right into a pair of soothing, blue eyes. She suddenly felt calm. He was a fair, blue-eyed man, as good-looking as Devil Chaos, but the difference was that he put people at ease. Looking at him was almost enough to heal her wounded heart.
However, Devil Chaos raised his eyebrows unhappily. The person who had made him unhappy appeared not to notice and seemingly didn’t have any intentions to leave, either.
“Hello, my name is God Charity. I am the other owner of Magical Exchange. Would you like to tell me your name?”
“Ms. Lü Zi, then. Did Devil Chaos tell you about the details of the contract?” He stopped for a moment. His eyes flicked over to Devil Chaos, who had turned his head away from him. “If you wish to do evil, Devil Chaos will help you, but there will be a price. The price will be decided upon how large or small your wish is.”
As soon as she heard the words “do evil,” Lü Zi shrank inwards. She couldn’t believe that she had almost hired a killer to murder Ma Sheng. How could she have such evil thoughts? She hurriedly said, “No, I don’t want to ask Devil Chaos for anything, I… only came inside for a look. I’m sorry, I’ll leave immediately.”
After she finished speaking, she didn’t wait for God Charity’s or Devil Chaos’s reaction, and left through the door in a rush.
“God Charity, you drove away my customer. We agreed not to interfere with each other’s business,” Devil Chaos said in a displeased voice. His red eyes glinted dangerously.
God Charity only smiled. “I only came out to see if someone was breaking the rules by secretly using a bit of hypnotism.”
“I only said one sentence.” Devil Chaos’s eyes flickered to the side.
“One sentence of yours is much stronger than the world’s best hypnotism!”
“Hmph! Well, I don’t need that business deal anyway.” Devil Chaos knew that he was in the wrong, and to dispute over who was in the right wasn’t beneficial for him. He most certainly wouldn’t do anything that didn’t benefit him.
God Charity didn’t mind him. He only watched the door, hoping in his heart that the girl wouldn’t come back anymore…
“Good morning, Lü Zi.” Ma Sheng approached Lü Zi, giggling.
“Good morning.” Lü Zi almost couldn’t look Ma Sheng in the eye because she had actually thought of causing Ma Sheng’s death yesterday. The always kindhearted and amiable Lü Zi had wallowed in shame the whole night, and in the end, had made up her mind that she would congratulate Ma Sheng and Xia properly even though her heartache was still gnawing at her.
Not having looked at Ma Sheng directly, Lü Zi missed Ma Sheng’s expression. It showed surprising spite, and her smile gave off an equally surprising feeling of delight at another’s torment. “Lü Zi, let’s go swimming at the pool after school today, alright? Let’s meet up at the gym and go there together, after we get changed.”
Lü Zi excitedly walked to the gym. Swimming had always been her favorite. She just never expected that the sight she was about to see would be so painful. Lü Zi, who was just about to enter the gym, was greeted with the scene of a couple making out—it was Ma Sheng and Xia. She covered her mouth tightly to prevent her cry from bursting out. Why? Why did God make her see this scene? Even though she had decided to congratulate them, it didn’t mean that she would be strong enough to see them being lovey-dovey together.
She almost sank into despair, watching Ma Sheng and Xia in front of her. In her heart she tried hard to repeatedly tell herself, Lü Zi, you have to congratulate them. You aren’t allowed to have any other thoughts. Congratulate both of your good friends…
But Ma Sheng had noticed Lü Zi a while ago because she had purposely planned this scene. Her heart was full of delight from tormenting Lü Zi. Good friends? Foolish Lü Zi, really too foolish.
“Ms. Ma Sheng,” a voice filled with enticement suddenly echoed jarringly from a shadowy corner. A cool, demonic looking man with black hair and red eyes emerged shortly after.
Devil Chaos? How could he be here? Lü Zi’s mind was filled with surprise. Could it be that he had come to make her sign a contract again? But he called out Ma Sheng’s name just now…?
“Where did you come from?” Ma Sheng had gotten a fright. When she had looked just now, there definitely hadn’t been anyone standing there, right?
“That isn’t important! The important thing is my payment!” Devil Chaos’s smile dripped with evil intentions.
Payment? Ma Sheng made a contract with Devil Chaos? Lü Zi was even more puzzled than before.
“Tell me how much money you want already.” Ma Sheng impatiently waved her hand. She didn’t want Lü Zi to find out the truth.
“What I want isn’t something worthless like money.” Devil Chaos smiled dangerously. He didn’t mind Ma Sheng’s rudeness in the slightest.
“Then what—” Before Ma Sheng could finish her sentence, Lü Zi interrupted her.
“Wait! Devil Chaos, why are you here? Ma Sheng, how come you know him?” Lü Zi didn’t know why, but she thought it had to do with how Xia, who was standing silently to the side, had suddenly lifeless eyes.
“Oh, it’s you, young lady Lü Zi.” Devil Chaos laughed with evil intent and thought of a way to make things even more chaotic. “It’s nothing, I’m only here to collect my payment, and it’s to be collected from this girl because she made a contract with me. Her wish was to be able to control that boy.”
Lü Zi couldn’t believe it as she stared at Ma Sheng, whose face turned ugly. She opened her mouth with much difficulty and asked, “Why?“
Ma Sheng hatefully glared at Lü Zi, who hadn’t ever seen her wear that kind of expression before. Lü Zi was rooted to her spot, stupefied. “This is all your fault. Lü Zi, you’re so dumb. Except for stupid gym class, I’m better than you in every aspect, no matter if it’s looks or homework, yet everyone likes you better. You’re always able to happily chat with our classmates, but what about me! I can only pretend to be a gentle and refined girl beside you because no girl is willing to talk to me. Do you know how much I envy you because everyone likes you? I couldn’t accept it. I at least wanted to steal away the person you liked the most, Xia, but when I confessed to him, he said that the one he likes is you.”
Lü Zi stood there, shocked, for a long time. Xia liked her?
Ma Sheng’s smile was full of wickedness. “It was then that Magical Exchange appeared. Devil Chaos told me he could grant me any wish. Haha, at first, I didn’t carry any hope, but from that day onward, Xia started to obey my every word. He’s mine forever. Hahaha.”
So, the cause for Xia’s lifelessness was this. Lü Zi looked at Xia, who was in the dark about everything, her heart full of pain. “You, how can you do this! Xia isn’t your doll. He’s a living, human being. How can you control him like that?” Lü Zi almost begged, “Let Xia go! Ma Sheng, the one you hate is me, so control me then.”
“Wait a moment, the two of you. If you want to fight, can you wait until after I collect my payment and then fight?” Devil Chaos, who was already fed up with watching, grudgingly said this with a menacing tone.
“Tell me what you want quickly then!” Ma Sheng said, ten times as impatient.
“Well, controlling a person for a lifetime is actually very hard work! But seeing as it is your first time visiting, I’ll give you a twenty percent discount.” Devil Chaos laughed evilly. “Originally, I wanted fifty years of your youth, but now only taking forty is enough for me.”
“What nonsense are you talking about? How can you take something like youth?” Ma Sheng disdainfully thought that the guy in front of her was a lunatic.
“Contract, come here!” Suddenly, a gush of wind rose around Devil Chaos, and a piece of parchment appeared in front of him. “According to this contract, I, Devil Chaos, have fulfilled your heart’s wish. I will now collect my payment—forty years of youth.” When he finished saying that, the whirl of wind suddenly wrapped around Ma Sheng.
“Ah… What’s this? Hurry and let me out,” Ma Sheng shouted from the inside, terrified.
Lü Zi didn’t know what to do, either. She was only able to blankly watch the unbelievable scene before her eyes.
After a while, the whirlwind returned to Devil Chaos’s side once again and slowly vanished into the parchment. At last, Devil Chaos raised his hand, and the parchment simply disappeared in his grasp. “Exchange successful! This was a pleasant collaboration. Feel free to visit the God ‘n Devil Magical Exchange again,” Devil Chaos finished saying with a mysterious and slow voice. His silhouette followed his voice and slowly faded away before Lü Zi and Ma Sheng.
“What the heck happened?” Lü Zi, whose head was in a mess, was rooted to the spot, dumbfounded.
“He actually disappeared.” Ma Sheng stared incredulously at the spot where Devil Chaos had disappeared. But the second she spoke, she and Lü Zi both thought that something was strange—her voice was off. It didn’t sound like a girl’s voice, but more like a fifty- or sixty-year-old middle aged woman’s.
Lü Zi slowly turned to look at Ma Sheng. She remembered what Devil Chaos had said before leaving. The payment was forty years of youth. Could it be possible? Is it possible to take away youth? But in the next moment, she knew, because the person in front of her wasn’t a youthful sixteen-year-old Ma Sheng anymore, but a fifty-year-old middle aged woman. Is it? Is it Ma Sheng? She simply didn’t dare believe it.
And seeing the disbelief in Lü Zi’s eyes, Ma Sheng’s confused, surprised, and incredulous feelings all mixed together. She stumbled to the nearest mirror… “Ahhhhhhhhh!” The shrieking person reflected in the mirror was a fifty-to-sixty-year-old woman.
“Why? Why did it turn out this way? I don’t want this. I don’t want this. Give me back my youth! Give it back to me,” Ma Sheng shouted, on the verge of insanity.
“Ma Sheng…” Lü Zi, who was just as disturbed in heart and mind, didn’t know what to do either.
“I don’t want this. If it’s like this, I’d rather die!” The hysterical Ma Sheng abruptly ran outside.
“Ma Sheng, wait!” Lü Zi followed her immediately.
Crap, I lost her. Where the heck did Ma Sheng go? Lü Zi searched in a frenzy. Even though Ma Sheng had done something like that to spite her, she was still softhearted. In Lü Zi’s heart, they were still friends, after all. She couldn’t just not care about the present Ma Sheng.
All around, a crowd had gathered and was making a racket. What caught Lü Zi’s attention was how they were all pointing to the school building’s roof. Some people were even screaming. As she raised her head, Lü Zi also started screaming. That’s Ma Sheng. The person standing on the roof is Ma Sheng. “Don’t do this, Ma Sheng!”
“Ah!” Everyone started yelling because the woman on the roof had jumped. Sprays of blood splashed everywhere. Lü Zi, who was standing right in front of the school building, was coated all over with Ma Sheng’s blood. She didn’t even have time to cry out or feel horror when she heard the crowd’s second outcry. She numbly raised her head to look.
Xia appeared on the rooftop, standing at roughly the same spot as Ma Sheng had. Lü Zi already knew what would happen next, and how much heartache it would cause her. Everything would turn into a tragedy…
Lü Zi numbly walked home, her heart aching so much that she couldn’t speak. Even the tears she’d shed after Xia jumped had run out. She had lost her best friend and the boy she loved the most. How did things turn out this way? Is there really no way to change it?
A white, wooden cottage appeared next to her on the street. Lü Zi, who hadn’t taken notice of anything since the suicides, still saw it. Three words appeared in front of Lü Zi—God ‘n Devil. She should have been resentful. After all, it was this exchange’s contract that had caused things to turn out this way, but the present white, wooden cottage emitted an air of comfort and warmth. Lü Zi’s numb heart tightened and tears began to fall again. Without hesitating, she entered.
God Charity was standing right behind the door, using his soothing eyes to look into the depths of Lü Zi’s heart. He didn’t say anything, but calmly opened his arms, and Lü Zi threw herself at God Charity’s embrace without hesitation. She cried to her heart’s content and let out a heart shattering wail.
After venting her anguish, Lü Zi calmly drank the tea God Charity passed her. She was making up her mind about things. She couldn’t let things end like this, not if she could help it.
God Charity interrupted her speech, as if he already knew Lü Zi’s newfound resolution, “I am in fact able to make a contract with you, to help you fulfill your heart’s wish, but the price for resurrecting a person is your life.”
Lü Zi shrank for a moment, but immediately stated, “Xia was innocent. At least save him, at least…” She paused, What about Ma Sheng then? Even though Ma Sheng did bad things, nevertheless in being Ma Sheng’s good friend and never noticing Ma Sheng’s odd behavior all these years, she had practically caused Ma Sheng’s death indirectly. Could she give up on Ma Sheng just like that and only save Xia? Lü Zi grew silent.
God Charity was also silent. A kindhearted youth indeed.
“Are you really able to do anything?” Lü Zi asked in an unguarded manner because she had thought of a way to kill two birds with one stone, but it was an extremely wild thing to imagine. Although she had seen Devil Chaos’s power, she couldn’t help but question if God Charity would be able to do it.
God Charity smiled, unwilling to let go of his pity for the kindhearted girl. “Yes, anything.”
“Then, I want to sign a contract with you. Please fulfill my wish.” Lü Zi took a deep breath. In her heart, she thought, Yes, this is the best way. It won’t hurt anyone, including my parents. “I wish I never existed.” This way, Ma Sheng wouldn’t make a contract with Devil Chaos to hurt Xia because of her. Her mom and dad wouldn’t be sad about losing her. This, truthfully, was the best way.
God Charity only sighed. “Are you sure? Lü Zi, are you sure about sacrificing yourself?”
“Yes,” Lü Zi firmly nodded her head. “As for the price, even if you take away my soul, I would have no regrets.”
God Charity’s heart twinged. He already had a plan. “Alright! Contract, appear. You only have to sign your name on it, and you will be able to accomplish your wish to never have been born.”
Lü Zi took the quill, and after writing down her name firmly, looked at God Charity. Her silhouette slowly faded away. “Thank you.”
God Charity just nodded his head, watching Lü Zi finally fade away before him. The white light, Lü Zi’s soul, slowly floated to his hand.
“What an unprofitable exchange.” Devil Chaos’s mocking voice echoed from behind God Charity. “The power spent to make her never be born into this world can’t be a small matter! You only received a tiny soul. You took an enormous loss, God Charity.”
“I feel it is worth it,” said God Charity lightly. Then, he added on, “I obtained a kindhearted little servant as a result.”
“Servant?” doubted Devil Chaos. He suddenly had an ominous feeling.
God Charity slowly raised his hand and from within, Lü Zi’s soul unexpectedly gave off a dazzling light. The light gradually molded into a form—a child’s form. At last, a cute, small girl appeared, fair-haired and blue-eyed, resembling a doll.
God Charity looked at her, and then said with a smile, “Let’s call you Angel Doll! You’re going to be my little servant.” After he spoke, he kindly patted Angel Doll’s head.
Angel Doll also smiled happily. “Little servant! Starting now, I’ll be big brother’s little servant.”
“Oh my god!” Devil Chaos looked at Angel Doll, who was obviously a mischievous little girl. “Couldn’t you have made a beautiful woman instead? What’s the use of making a kid?”
God Charity simply smiled while Angel Doll hid behind him. She looked at Devil Chaos with contempt and even stuck out her tongue.
“You brat! Watch me punish you thoroughly, and see if you still dare to stick your tongue out at me.” Devil Chaos reached out his hand to catch Angel Doll. Unfortunately, Angel Doll suddenly unfolded a pair of angel wings, flitting about in every direction, stubbornly keeping out of Devil Chaos’s reach.
God Charity looked at the two gems in front of him, his heart brimming with amusement. “It seems that I won’t be lonely anymore.”