½ Prince Volume 7: Life, Fading Away
Original novel in Chinese by: 御我 (Yu Wo)
Extra Chapter: The Long Family’s Undisclosed Secret – translated by bleachpanda
“Xiao Han Han, this is your older cousin. His name is Long Dian,” Long-bà said as he suddenly brought back a boy she didn’t know.
“My older cousin?” The ten-year-old Long Shui Han frowned. How could I just suddenly have a cousin pop out of nowhere? If I must have a cousin appear out of nowhere, it should at least be a younger cousin; I don’t want to be the youngest one. Besides, this cousin looks so skinny and small. He doesn’t look anything like an older cousin.
“Xiao Han Han? Call him Biǎogē,” Long-bà reprimanded, a bit displeased. “Xiao Long Dian has already lost his parents, so he will be living with us from now on. Be nice to him, okay?”
“Oh okay, I understand,” Long Shui Han replied reluctantly.
“Very good, now show Long Dian to his room. It’s the one next to yours.” Long-bà said, nodding his head in satisfaction.
Sigh. Like this, my older brother can probably rest in peace now, right? Long-bà thought. He recalled the past, when his brother had refused to follow the family’s arrangements of marrying another business magnate’s daughter and had dated a poor girl in his school instead.
Sigh, Father was stubborn as well. He just wouldn’t yield. No matter what, he wouldn’t allow Dàgē1 to marry that girl. It was also due to this that Dàgē ran away from home. The family hadn’t heard from him since then. Father was obstinate; even then he still wouldn’t let us look for any traces of Dàgē. It was only when Father had passed away that we started looking for Dàgē, under Mother’s orders. But before we could find him, Mother had already passed away. Not being able to see Dàgē even at her deathbed became one of Mother’s regrets when she died.
However, this made him even more determined to find his brother. No matter what, his brother at least needed to burn incense at Mother’s grave and pay his respects to her.
There had been no news of his brother… until last week. Yet the long-awaited news of his brother ended up being a report of his death. Three years ago, both his brother and that girl died during a car crash. They left a child behind, a poor child that was thrown around like a ball from relative to relative on the girl’s side.
Long-bà shook his head. Those shameless relatives! It’s so obvious how they were treating him from the look of his thin and sickly body to his worn out, oversized clothes. Yet those relatives had dared to say that they would really miss Long Dian, making us… making us give them more compensation for their so-called loss!
Hmph, they’re just a bunch of money grubbers, Long-bà thought in contempt.
“How old are you this year?” Long Shui Han asked grudgingly. I want a younger brother!
“I’m already twelve years old,” Long Dian said, nervously tugging at the corners of his shirt. He had never seen such a large and beautiful house before, not even when his parents were still alive. Not to mention, he had also never seen a girl more beautiful than the one who was standing before his eyes.
“Oh,” Long Shui Han replied, a bit displeased. He really is older! How annoying!
“We’re here. This is where you’ll sleep,” she said, kicking the door open and gesturing inside.
“Th-thank you…” Long Dian still couldn’t believe it. This room is larger than Uncle’s entire house. Can I really live here?
Seeing the boy fidgeting timidly, Long Shui Han felt quite annoyed. She complained, “What are you so scared about? The room isn’t going to eat you! How can you be my older cousin if you have no guts?”
“Sorry,” Long Dian said looking down, ashamed.
Long Shui Han felt like she was going to go crazy. “Don’t say sorry! Children from the Long family never say sorry to others! Not even in death!”
(Prince: …Lolidragon, you’re only ten years old and you’re already setting such a bad example…)
“S-sorry,” Long Dian apologized, so scared that he straightened up, his body rigid. “I won’t say sorry ever again.”
“Good, follow me from now on. Jiějie2 has your back,” Long Shui Han said confidently while patting her chest.
Although he didn’t really understand what she meant, not to mention his confusion over her calling herself his big sister even though she was his younger cousin, Long Dian obediently nodded his head anyway. “Okay.”
“Barbaric kid! We don’t play with uncivilized children like you,” said a handsome boy. He was wearing a white swallow-tailed coat and was looking down at Long Dian disdainfully and arrogantly. Even when saying such spiteful words, he said it with extreme elegance.
“S-s-sor…” Long Dian looked down at the boy’s perfectly polished and spotless white shoes. Another apology had come out of his mouth even though he hadn’t done anything. Long-shūshu3 hadn’t wanted him to feel lonely, so he had specially organized a little dance party, inviting many guests that were the same age as him so he could make friends. But… this action… seems to have initiated the opposite effect…
“You’re not allowed to say sorry!” shouted an infuriated Long Shui Han who had witnessed this scene. She had only walked away for a bit and her cousin was already getting bullied! Sheesh! This is the Long family’s domain! If he were to go to another person’s house, then he’d be bullied to the point of getting bashed up!
“Biǎomèi!4” Long Dian exclaimed, happily lifting his head up toward her. His eyes were filled with the same emotions as that of Lois when she was being saved by Superman.
After rolling her eyes at Long Dian, Long Shui Han walked up to the boy in the swallow-tailed coat. Hands on her hips, as if she were a tigress condemning him, she demanded, “Young Master Chen, if I may ask, do you have something against my OLDER COUSIN?”
Young Master Chen didn’t even feel a bit like he was being interrogated for a serious crime. He put forth an elegant smile, believing that his looks could definitely mesmerize the girl in front of him. She was a rich, young heiress who would one day come into an incomprehensibly wealthy inheritance. Even though there was an age difference of seven years between them, the inheritance would make up for everything. In addition, a girl who could look so cute even when angry definitely wouldn’t look bad in the future.
After considering all of this, Young Master Chen gracefully and politely replied, “Long-xiǎojie,5 I haven’t seen you for a long time. You have become even more beautiful than before.”
Unfortunately for him, a ten-year-old girl is clueless toward such romantic endeavors. Feeling disgusted, Long Shui Han stuck out her tongue and then dragged Long Dian away and ran. She even managed to make a face full of mockery at him as she left.
After leaving the party, Long Shui Han angrily pointed and shouted at Long Dian, “What the heck are you doing? How could you just let him call you a barbaric kid!? You’re my older cousin, you know!”
“I…” Long Dian lowered his head, ashamed. He wasn’t qualified to be Long Shui Han’s older cousin. Weak and cowardly, he was nothing like that older boy just now, who had possessed such an air of elegance. In reality, up until now, he had always suspected that maybe Long-shūshu had mistaken him for someone else. How could he possibly be a part of their family?
“You make me so mad!! Next time, I won’t care about you anymore!” Long Shui Han was so infuriated that her face flushed bright red.
Long Dian lowered his head. Yeah, it would better if Biǎomèi didn’t care about someone like me anymore. What if I influenced her and she became like me…
He suddenly noticed two small drops of water falling down his face, bitter and sour… It had been so long… so long since he had last cried. Since his mom and dad’s funeral, he had never cried again.
Originally, Long Shui Han had only been venting out her frustration and didn’t know that she would really cause her cousin to cry. She couldn’t help but panic. She hurriedly patted her cousin’s back, trying to comfort him, “D-don’t cry! I didn’t shout at you on purpose! Ahh… Please don’t cry, okay…?”
“Wuu…Wahhh…” It would have been better if she hadn’t tried to comfort him, because once she had done so, it made him remember his mom. In the past, whenever he cried, his mom would always be by his side patting his back and comforting him… Long Dian couldn’t stop himself from crying and wailing even harder.
Even though Long Shui Han was known to be fearless, her ten-year-old self couldn’t help but feel shocked and helpless at having an older boy hold onto her, crying. She didn’t know what to do. Had her words been that ruthless? After all, they had caused her cousin to start crying nonstop like Niobe!6
As Long Dian bawled his eyes out while hugging Long Shui Han, who sat unmoving like a rock, so shocked that she didn’t dare move, Long-bà quietly stood by the door. He heaved a sigh and said, “Being able to cry is good, much better than enduring it and not shedding any tears at all. The latter would make me worry much more.”
“I…I really miss my parents…” Long Dian couldn’t stop himself from wailing.
Hearing that, Long Shui Han’s eyes became watery. She really missed her mom as well, but her mom had passed away from an illness when she was five. No matter how much she tried, she couldn’t even remember what her mom looked like. Mouth quivering and eyes growing warm, Long Shui Han followed along as she cried out loud, “Mommy…wahhh… Shui Han wants her mommy too…”
In the end, the two big little children held each other and cried their hearts out. They continued until they felt so tired that they fell asleep on the lawn, thus making Long-bà, who was getting along in years, carry them back to their beds, nearly twisting his back in the process!
The eighteen-year-old Long Shui Han quietly walked into the study room. Like a thief, she tiptoed stealthily to the side of the chair where someone was sitting. She breathed in deeply and yelled, “BOO!”
The man sitting on the chair visibly shuddered from the abrupt attack. Then, a handsome face, which noticeably had not stabilized from the fright, turned around. However, he didn’t even seem the least bit angry. Instead, he casually laughed, “Shui Han, you’re playing tricks on me again.”
Long Shui Han stuck her tongue out at him, unhappily asking, “Dian, what are you doing again? Isn’t it boring always sitting here staring at the computer?”
“Not at all. I’m currently designing a game!” said Long Dian, lightly pushing up the glasses sitting on his nose.
“Designing a game? The old fashioned you who has never done anything fun in his life?” stared Long Shui Han, dumbfounded. She couldn’t believe that the guy that wouldn’t play any online games, even when she tried coercing him through force and bribery, would actually want to design a game.
It’s because you like playing games, he thought to himself secretly. He smiled, saying, “Aren’t you constantly whining that games aren’t realistic enough and that their gameplay is unfulfilling? I want to design a game that has a realism level of 100% for you to play. If you have any suggestions, fire away. I will definitely make it meet your expectations.”
Long Shui Han’s eyes immediately started shining, “Really? Let me see, let me see!”
Long Dian couldn’t help but laugh out loud. “This is only a plan. I can’t possibly design a whole game by myself. I’m planning on proposing this idea to Uncle. I hope that he can financially support me on this so that I can gather professionals to complete this game.”
“Oh, Dad you heard that right? A game with a realism level of 100%!” Long Shui Han turned around to find Long-bà already standing with a smile behind the two.
“A game with a realism level of 100% is too dangerous!” Long-bà said a bit regrettably. He had always known that Long Dian had a talent for programming and he also knew that Dian-er7 wasn’t someone who would exaggerate his skills. He had no doubt at all that Long Dian would be able to do it. Especially if it was for Shui Han, he would definitely put in his best effort and accomplish it at all costs.
“Dad~. Let Biǎogē do it. I really want to play such a game!” Long Shui Han persistently whined cutely at Long-bà while shaking his arm.
Long-bà smiled involuntarily, “Of course I wouldn’t stop Dian-er from doing this, I only hope that he could lower the realism level a little, so that at least it’s not 100%.” Long-bà sternly continued, “If the game is too realistic, I am afraid that many people wouldn’t be able to differentiate between reality and virtual reality. That is really dangerous.”
Long Dian smiled, “I understand. I will decrease the realism level a little bit.”
“Awesome! So we’re really making it?” Long Shui Han exclaimed excitedly, nearly jumping up and down in happiness. Aren’t I participating in the production of one of the grandest games ever then?!
“What name should we give this game?” Long Shui Han hurriedly asked.
“I haven’t thought of one?” Long Dian said a bit perplexed, “I wanted to wait until the game has been finished, and then think about it.”
“Yeah, yeah yeah! Let’s give it a name along the lines of Dreamlike Fantasy!” Long Shui Han exclaimed dreamily while ignoring the dark looks of the two men. She was completely enchanted by the words “Dreamlike Fantasy.”
Seeing that his daughter had already entirely neglected the two of them who would be putting in their effort and money, Long-bà could only turn around and discuss with Long Dian. “What kind of world are you planning on depicting?”
“Hmm, maybe a futuristic realm?” pondered Long Dian.
“What?” Long Shui Han cried out in rejection. “Futuristic realm? Please, that stuff is so dull! Games should have magic, knights and a bunch of odd monsters to fight against! That way, a princess and her knight would be able to go adventuring together happily in the game world!”
As she talked more and more, Long Shui Han once again became immersed in her imaginary world. She was envisioning a place with green hills and clear waters where she would be in the same party as a prince. The two of them would defeat monsters on their romantic journey… And of course this prince will be the ultimate bishie! He’ll be extremely strong and cool, very considerate and it’ll be even better if he knows how to sing! Then he could always sing love songs for me to listen to!
Long Shui Han sighed, “If there were such a person by my side, then I would really be able to die with no regrets.”
Long-bà and Long Dian both shuddered, drops of cold sweat dripping down their backs.
They then continued discussing, “Hmm… how many characters are you planning on allowing each player to create?”
“One. Definitely only one character. You absolutely cannot recreate your character,” replied Long Shui Han again as she turned around. If they’re allowed to make more than one character, then how would I know whether my prince on a white horse is cheating on me?
Long-bà and Long Dian both displayed odd expressions. Long Dian scrunched his brows, “Not allowed to create another character? If it’s like that, there may be many people objecting against it…”
“Or maybe there will be more people supporting it instead!” Long Shui Han resolutely answered. “Since the game’s realism is practically 100%, then it shouldn’t be possible to create another character; that is what it means to be realistic. This way, players will really be able to experience the feeling of reality.”
Long-bà and Long Dian felt a bit stunned. They lowered their heads, thinking about this one of a kind character system… It really might attract more players.
“Hehehe! This way, I can ensure that my prince cannot cheat on me or secretly train a new character. Wohohohoho!” Long Shui Han covered her mouth and laughed hysterically.
This was the main point… The two men looked at each other, laughing exasperatedly.
“Ah! Ah! I thought of an even better name for the game!” Long Shui Han suddenly shouted excitedly. The more she thought about it, the better the name sounded.
“What’s the name?” asked the two men as they forced a smile.
Long Shui Han eagerly responded, “Let’s call it Second Life!”
Second Life! Long-bà and Long Dian were blown away, totally astonished. A second life huh? That is truly a great name!
“Daughter, even you can spout out such good words once in a while!” Long-bà said, teasing her as he smiled.
“What!? I always say good stuff!” Long Shui Han retorted. With her face reddening, she unhappily kicked her legs. “Dian!! Dad is bullying me again!”
Seeing this scene, Long Dian couldn’t help but smile. At the moment, he was truly blessed with happiness.
This year, Long Shui Han turned twenty-three years old and Long Dian turned twenty-five years old.
“My little cousin Long Dian~~” Long Shui Han smiled evilly using the tone that she would only use when trying to take advantage of him. She couldn’t resist asking, “How is the game progressing? When can I start playing?”
“One year. No, in half a year, you will definitely be able to play it.” Long Dian was clearly startled for a second, but then pretended like nothing had happened. He calmly stored away a piece of paper.
“Half a year?!” Long Shui Han was in disbelief. After hearing Long Dian say one year, she was already quite shocked because her dad had told her that they still needed at least two more years for Second Life to attain a realism level of 99%. Yet now Long Dian is actually saying it will be completed in half a year?
“Yes, half a year.” Long Dian said, eyes filled with determination. The amount of resolve in his eyes was so strong, it was scary. It’s because I have no more time left, he thought bitterly to himself.
“Dian… are you all right?” Long Shui Han was a little scared. The Long Dian that was usually so gentle was actually displaying such an expression. His eyes seem to be exploding with wild ambition? Although he was being very zealous, she was also a little frightened of him. She couldn’t shake off the feeling that Dian was really frightening when he was like this.
“I’m fine. It’s just that recently, I’ve been quite tired,” Long Dian smiled forcefully.
Hearing this, Long Shui Han seriously said in worry, “If you’re too tired, then rest for a bit. Listen to Dad. You’ve put in so much of your hard work and effort into this game, so if it’s impossible to complete it within half a year, then allowing it to be released a little later is all right. Don’t force yourself so much just because I’m always rushing you. You know I am half joking about it.”
“I know. Don’t worry. I won’t allow myself to collapse,” Long Dian said while clenching his fist, trying his best to keep his emotions under control.
“Good! Then, take care of your health!” Long Shui Han ordered before leaving.
“Got it!” Long Dian smiled in response as he watched Long Shui Han close the door behind her. The moment the door closed, Long Dian’s smile immediately disappeared. He buried his face into his hands, his heart only remembering the doctor’s painful words…
“It is a terminal illness; you only have one year left.”
“Is there really no medicine that can possibly save me? In this era where technology has become so advanced?” Long Dian couldn’t believe it. An incurable disease? The kind of situation that only happens in Shui Han’s favorite soap operas is actually happening to me? This is really too laughably ironic…
“Every era has illnesses that cannot be cured. As technology improves, new illnesses are constantly emerging… Believe me, I am the most knowledgeable doctor about your illness that you will be able to find,” the doctor said helplessly. “I didn’t want to answer you so mercilessly but I’d rather be cruel than allow you to waste the remaining time you have naively believing that you could be cured.”
Long Dian was silent for a long period of time. With both of his hands shaking uncontrollably, he asked, “Can you help me delay it for a bit longer? The things I need to do cannot be completed in the short period of one year.”
“With the assistance of medicine and the most advanced medical equipment, I will only be able to delay it for two years at the most.”
Sobs of pain escaped from behind the hands that were firmly pressed against his face. After a long time, Long Dian slowly raised his head, his composure restored. He turned on his computer and got absorbed back into frantic programming. At least… I at least have to leave something behind for Shui Han…
Long Dian stared at the computer screen, looking at the GFX team’s creation of the latest version of the AI administrator in the game… He lightly pressed a few buttons, changing the face to match his own appearance. He hesitated for a moment, but in the end he still chose to give this AI, who looked identical to him, the highest intelligence level possible.
“Maybe you can replace me and stay by Shui Han’s side?” Long Dian muttered to himself. He became more and more confused in his heart. To think that I only have two years left to spend together with Shui Han and Long–shūshu…
“No! You can’t replace me!” Long Dian roared. He agitatedly swept everything on his table to the floor. “I don’t want to leave them! I’ve only been with them for ten or so years! I want to continue to stay alongside them!”
“I need to think. Think of another way…” Long Dian kept murmuring to himself. Grabbing his health examination report from the table, he walked out, his body swaying. He kept mumbling, “I need to think of another way…”
The computer screen displayed a message: highest intelligence level completed at 50%, 60%…
“Dictator of Life, is there any way for me to continue living?” Long Dian questioned the computer screen reflecting the face of the Dictator of Life, the face that looked exactly like his. Toward this super artificial intelligence that Long Dian had unintentionally created… he had the utmost trust.
The ironic thing was that he was unable to make the same program again because the reason the process had finished was due to him carelessly sweeping the whole computer onto the floor. During that process, he had no idea what had been pressed or done to create this miraculous result. The Dictator of Life might possibly be the world’s most intelligent super computer. However, Long Dian even suspected that he wasn’t simply the most intelligent computer on this earth… the Dictator of Life was slowly becoming more and more human!
“Father, there are two ways.” The Dictator of Life responded to the question accordingly.
“Number one; freeze yourself and wait until medicine that can cure your illness is created.”
Long Dian impatiently waved his hand in rejection. What he desired was to be able to be with Shui Han and Long-shūshu. If he must wait an unknown number of years to defrost, only to find that Shui Han and Long- shūshu had long d… Then he might as well just die in the first place.
The Dictator of Life hesitated for a moment before speaking. “Number two; download your brainwaves into a certain place and store them there. To a certain extent, that is also considered living, right?”
Long Dian was greatly stunned. He blurted, “Store my brainwaves? Where?”
“Father, the game that you are designing right now is a very suitable place,” the Dictator of Life said with sincerity. “That place will be placed under my jurisdiction, correct? Father, you will be very safe there.”
Store myself inside the game? Long Dian’s fist tightened. Shui Han really likes that place too. If I were to stay there, would that count as staying by her side?
“How should I do it? How should I download my brainwaves into the game?” asked Long Dian agitatedly. As long as he would truly be able to continue staying beside Shui Han, then he would do anything, at any cost.
“There are a few methods…” The Dictator of Life suggested a few methods which he believed had considerable feasibility. One of them was the idea that once you enter the brainwaves onto the network, cut off the return path; this would mean directly killing the person’s body. This way, the brainwaves could, hopefully, be stored on the network.
However, after the Dictator of Life finished speaking, he worriedly added, “Father, these methods are only theoretical. You must not try this.”
“Need to experiment…” said Long Dian, who was a little out of it. He staggered out of the study room.
The Dictator of Life’s computer screen suddenly flashed, “Ah… I have just thought of another method… I guess I will tell Father about it next time.”
“Father can… merge together with me.”
1 “Dàgē”: Older brother.
2 “Jiějie”: Older sister.
3 “Long-shūshu”: Uncle Long.
4 “Biǎomèi”: Younger female cousin.
5 “Long-xiǎojie”: Miss Long.
6 “…crying…like Niobe…”: Niobe is a figure from Greek mythology whose children were slaughtered. She is known for weeping unceasingly for her children.
7 “Dian-er”: The “er” part is an endearment that can be added to people’s names, especially for children younger than the speaker.