I Was Once a Legend, Chapter 1: Pure White Realm

 

————Volume 1: Hameln [Begins]————

 

The world’s time has grown unchecked, but you and I are both believers of entropy.
——████

Cui Zuojing opened his eyes.

He turned his head to look out the window. The outside was still an empty, pure white. If it weren’t for the rumble of passing rails, he wouldn’t even be able tell that the train was still running—in this space without any reference, the concept of movements seemed to blur.

Cui Zuojing merely shot a glance, then turned his gaze away in disinterest.

Out of habit, he glanced at his wristwatch. The clock hands had stopped exactly at 1:37 and hadn’t moved since he’d entered this space.

It was unclear how long the train had been traveling in this Pure White Realm.

Aside from him, the car compartment was empty of other people. A white cat curled up on the side seat, sleeping soundly. His fur had lost its luster due to age, and his round body rose and fell with each breath.

Cui Zuojing shifted a little, stretching out his stiff muscles, and then closed his eyes again.

Three days ago, he’d bid farewell to his parents and younger sister. He took along the cat that was running out of time and entered a narrow dreamscape as a stowaway. After being away for eight years, he once again returned to this pure white world and boarded the train that had been waiting for him for a long time.

Did the queen know that he was back?

Cui Zuojing slept in a bewildered daze, and the vague dreams that had entangled him eight years ago gained clarity.

The faces of the people in the past that had died or were imprisoned forever flashed before him, including himself.

No one knew when the train had stopped.

The white cat was the first one to discover this. His body was too old, and even sleeping had become a kind of burden. But, it was different this time. In his sleep, he suddenly discovered that his body had become much lighter.

After waking up, he stared at the red tent of the circus not far from the window and then extended his paw to pat Cui Zuojing’s shoulder. “Meow—”

Cui Zuojing woke up, and he rubbed his eyes. Eight years ago, the moment he’d successfully escaped, he was hit by the queen’s last curse and became frozen forever at the age of sixteen. Ever since then, he had remained a teenager.

The white cat flicked his tail and said, “We’re here.”

Cui Zuojing was stunned, unable to believe his ears. “Uncle, you…”

“The curse’s power have gradually diminished, and the power of time in your body is begining to affect me.” The white cat stood in front of Cui Zuojing. He paced gracefully on the table and shook his ears. His fur miraculously became smooth and shiny, and a low, male voice with a strong Russian accent said, “We’re really back.”

Cui Zuojing immediately hugged the cat. He kissed the white cat’s pink nose, unable to suppress his excitement “That’s really good.”

The white cat smiled and pushed at Cui Zuojing’s face with his paws. Tilting his head back, he said, “Okay, let’s quickly get off. We don’t know how long the train will stop.”

“I bet it won’t leave until we get off.” Cui Zuojing stood up, holding the cat and scratching the nape of its neck with his hand, causing the white cat to narrow his eyes in pleasure and lift up his head.

Through the compartment’s opened door, it was clear that there was no one else on the entire train. Cui Zuojing stepped off the train and stood still. The door behind him slowly closed, and the train soon departed as silently as it came.

After watching the train leave until it slowly shrank away into a small speck in the distance before finally disappearing altogether at the end of the railroad track, Cui Zuojing turned around and walked towards the red tent nearby. Such a bright color in the pure white space could dazzle people.

The red and white circus canopy still had the same brightly-colored banner with screaming words on it: Hell’s Circus, dragging you down to hell!

In this stifling, infinite whiteness, the towering circus canopy and the banner’s horrifying message could make timid people cry out in fear. But, to Cui Zuojing, it only elicit a hidden nostalgia.

As soon as Cui Zuojing approached, the heavy curtain was lifted from the inside and a clown with white paint on his face came out to meet them.

The clown was nearly two meters tall. His exaggerated muscles strained through his black suit. His face was fleshly, and the smiling lips were stained with red paint that stretched all the way to his ears. Each eyes were painted with a red four-point star, and his nose was also stained red. The exaggerated makeup could scare little children.

Seeing that Cui Zuojing had come, the clown grinned, bowed like a gentleman, and pulled an invitation letter from the pocket of his chest. With both hands, he handed it to Cui Zuojing.

Cui Zuojing held the cat in one hand and took the invitation with the other. As he looked down, he heard the clown called out in a hoarse voice, “Welcome to the Pure White Realm! This is the nightmare of the world, the gambler’s paradise. As long as you have enough chips, we can satisfy any of your desires! But, if you leave before the end of the game, we will charge a certain loss fee. For example—your life!”

“Now, please show your chips.”

“Let’s talk later.” Cui Zuojing directly walked past him, lifted the curtains, and entered the tent. He looked around quietly and asked, “Is there water?”

“Sorry. For work reasons, the introductory dialogue must be said.” The clown came up behind him and poured two glasses of water from the bar. “Does Victor want something to eat?”

The clown was too heavy and the wooden floor made an overwhelming crunch every time he stepped on it. Cui Zuojing sat down on the high chair in front of the bar.

This was a small room similar to a front desk lobby. Many large colored blocks of Impressionist paintings hung on the wall. Except for the bar and the two sofas, there were only a lot of doors, eight of which were closed. The only door visibly open was by the corner that led to the circus performance stage, which was currently empty.

The white cat named Victor jumped from Cui Zuojing’s arms to the bar. “Is it canned?”

“Do you want the lion’s meat?”

Victor lowered his head to drink. “Forget it. I don’t like to eat raw meat.”

“I expected you to come back and have been waiting for you for a long time.” The clown stretched out his radish-like fingers and carefully touched Victor’s ears. The white cat couldn’t resist the instinct of its body and rubbed against his palm.

“Is Victor always like this?”

Cui Zuojing said, “Mmn, Uncle has been like this since we left here. His cat’s body is gradually aging in the real world. There’s not much time left so I decided to come back.”

The clown sighed. “This is not a good time for you to come back. The queen has complete control of the Pure White Realm now. No one dares to resist her—No, it should be said that those who resisted her at the end of their pilgrimage died. Or, were trapped in a monster box forever. Only the five of you are still alive.”

Cui Zuojing did not move. “Since I have the ability to resist her the first time, I can come back for the second and the third time. But this time, I will kill her.”

“I’ll do my best to help you.” The clown pointed at the invitation letter in Cui Zuojing’s hand. “This is a prisoner card prepared especially for you. For the time being, the queen can’t know about you. You’ve just returned, and your ability hasn’t been restored yet. You’re also still carrying the curse of the Prisoner of Time. You need some time to recuperate.”

“Thank you.” Cui Zuojing ripped open the invitation letter and pulled out an empty black and gold card.

The clown said, “Once you put a drop of blood on this card, if someone uses it, you will be summoned and have to sign a contract. Usually, the player holding the black-gold card should be someone powerful, and this person might likely offer you a helping hand.”

Cui Zuojing did not hesitate. He gently pressed his thumb nail against the belly of his index finger. A bead of blood oozed out from the wound. When he gently raised his hand, a drop of blood automatically fell on to the card’s surface and silently soaked in.

The card momentarily burst into a dazzling light. The huge energy fluctuations blew back Cui Zuojing’s hair, and all the bottles on the wine cabinets clattered unstably. The white cat lifted his ears in alert and, under the gaze of three pairs of eyes, an unusual blood-red line automatically appeared.

The clown said, “Choose a prisoner’s name for yourself.”

Cui Zuojing had already thought of a good name as early as the train. “Arabidopsis.”

The moment his words fell, the energy fluctuation reached its peak and a golden light shrouded Cui Zuojing. After five seconds, everything suddenly subsided and the card dropped to the bar top, displaying a clock-like pattern on its back.

“The wheel of destiny signifies a brand new beginning.” The clown picked up the card and turned it over to the front. On the card’s face was a plain weed, which read “Arabidopsis”.

Cui Zuojing let out a breath, put the wounded finger in his mouth and sucked at the blood. He vaguely said, “My luck hasn’t been too bad. But, what about Uncle?”

The clown scratched Victor’s chin. “Once you’re sure about the owner of the prisoner card, Victor can sign a contract as a summoning beast. This body is not his, and he can’t be a prisoner like you.”

“Yes.” Cui Zuojing took the card from the clown and put it in his pants pocket, “I’m going to make an exchange for 500 points.”

“What for?”

“The same. My emotions, they should be worth it.”

Victor immediately broke free from the clown and dissuaded, “Don’t do this. You’ll regret it.”

“Don’t worry about it, Uncle,” Cui Zuojing said quietly. “If I lose my life, these emotions are of no use anyway and may very likely interfere with my judgement at a critical moment.”

Seeing that he was determined, the clown took out an empty bottle from the wine cabinet and unplugged the cork. “Emotions can be cheap or expensive. But, this is not the first time I’ve dealt with you. After taking away your feelings at the price of 500 points, when you regret it, you can come back to redeem them.”

“They’re not needed at this time.” Cui Zuojing closed his eyes, and the clown pressed the bottle’s opening against his forehead. Small colorful lights drifted from the teen’s forehead and was sucked into the bottle.

The clown couldn’t help but ask one thing. “Friendship isn’t even needed?”

“Unnecessary.” Cui Zuojing opened his eyes. “As long as there is enough interest, the relationship between individuals will naturally be maintained.”

The clown silently reinserted the cork. The little colorful lights grew panicked inside the bottle and tried to return to Cui Zuojing.

Cui Zuojing looked at them and frowned as he endured the pain of his now deficient soul. The tears that he’d shed when he said goodbye to his family. The bitter sobs of his parents and his sister. Him, Fu Zhe, and Luo Yan, in order to permit one another to live, had taken on the curse that was sorrowful and insane. Watching Victor’s pain of aging day by day… All these faded away with the deprivation of feelings, leaving only an empty heart and a fierce, monstrous hatred for the Queen.

The youth that had once burned with a raging fire now had calm eyes. Cui Zuojing gently pressed his chest and let out a long breath.

Good. Now, he was invincible.

Victor looked at him worriedly. Cui Zuojing shook his head to signal that he was okay and was just about to speak when the card in his pocket suddenly burst into dazzling blood.

A gust of wind whirled around the face of the card, blowing the goblet that Cui Zuojing had drunk until it fell unsteadily off the bar top.

“What?! The prisoner ritual has just finished. How could someone be summoning it now?!” the clown shouted in panic. He and Victor both reached out at the same time, but they were still one step too late. The youth’s figure was completely engulfed in the light, and they were only able to catch a small speck of that light.

Victor muttered angrily and left a long line of scratches on the bar top.

Before anyone could react, the prisoner card had already summoned Cui Zuojing into a box.

Crashed!

The blown goblet that had fallen shattered on the ground.

Victor raised his claws and touched his forehead sadly.

“God… I still have a lot of things to tell him,” the clown murmured.

Meanwhile, the summon had caught Cui Zuojing off guard. The moment he opened his eyes from the dazzling light, he saw an unconscious man leaning on the tree trunk in front of him. There was blood all over the ground.

A tall youth knelt beside him, holding one of his hands in a tight grip. The black-gold prisoner card in the man’s hand was burning, but the flame emitted no heat.

The blood on his hands became the burning material. The teen looked at Cui Zuojing still trapped in the light, gritted his teeth, and used the man’s hand to draw a rune in the air.

Cui Zuojing’s eyes widened suddenly.

It was a blood contract!

He yelled and immediately rushed up to violently knock down the card in the man’s hand—

But, at that moment, the teen made the final stroke. The blood-colored lines emerged from the man’s fingers and crossed through the air, bursting into two rays of light, which shot directly into Cuo Zuojing and the man’s chest.

—The blood contract was completed.

Cui Zuojing groaned, and a strange sense of connection with the unconscious man immediately appeared in his heart, accompanied by an agonizing pain. Deep and heavy wounds appeared on his right waist, his shoulders, and his left leg. Correspondingly, the wounds on the man were miraculously reduced, and the sword wound on his shoulder that almost split his back no longer bled.

Covering his wound that had appeared out of thin air, Cui Zuojing couldn’t help but yelled, “Fuck!”

He was so angry that he lost all his senses at once. He immediately rushed up and punched the teen in the face!

Cui Zuojing was too fast, and the teen didn’t have time to react at all. He took a punch and immediately screamed. Moaning, the teen fell to the ground with a nosebleed. Then, he covered his nose and tried to fight back.

Cui Zuojing ignored him, and immediately grabbed the man’s hand. The card was stuck to his hand and could not be torn away. Cui Zuojing picked up the knife that fell from the teenager at his feet and tried to forcibly separate the card from him.

“No!” The teenager immediately grabbed Cui Zuojing’s leg when he saw this.

“You get away!” Cui Zuojing kicked him away.

But the teenager hugged him again, trying to stop him, and shouted, “He will die!”

Cui Zuojing roared in a voice louder than his, “Whether he died or not, did you ask for my opinion?!”

While the two were fighting, the unconscious man’s bloodied eyelashes trembled slightly and his eyes slowly opened.

A little golden light flashed through the card and disappeared into his dark pupil.

As if dominated by an inaudible command, Cui Zuojing and the teenager stopped their fists and looked at him.

Cui Zuojing froze the moment he met those eyes, and he reluctantly released the hand holding the teen’s collar. The influence of the blood contract was more profound than he’d imagined. The man’s thought was sent very clearly to Cui Zuojing’s mind.

—Don’t hurt him!

Cui Zuojing quickly gritted his teeth, stiffened for a while, but he finally could no longer resist the constraints of the blood contract rules and let go.

The teen immediately coughed violently and staggered against the tree, staring at Cui Zuojing with panic and vigilance.

The wounded man stood up slowly with visible injuries on his waist and abdomen. When he saw the strange, wounded boy in front of him, he frowned and raised his left hand.

On the back of his hand was a prisoner’s coat of arms representing the blood contract.

He instantly understood everything. Panting weakly, he glanced at Dong Linhai, who had helped him sign the blood contract. He said to Cui Zuojing, “Sorry, the blood contract signed with you was only due to circumstances. Linhai just wanted to save me.”

Cui Zuojing looked at him coldly but did not speak.

The blood contract was the deepest kind of prisoner’s contract. Under the rules of the blood contract, the injury suffered by the owner would be transferred to the prisoner to a certain extent, even to the point of losing limbs, and the owner also had the power to give three absolute commands. In addition, the prisoner could not subjectively harm the owner.

In the Pure White Realm, the prisoner was essentially a slave-like existence to its owner. However, rather than becoming a hapless prisoner, Cui Zuojing originally intended to threaten him and manipulate him into helping him complete his plan. If the person cannot satisfy him, he intended to kill the person and wait for the next call, continuing until a qualified helper was found.

But he didn’t expect that the plan would go awry from the very beginning; he would always be tied to this person until the end of his life.

Although most of his feelings were gone, the basic emotions were still there. Cui Zuojing was forced to bear the man’s injury the moment he was summoned. But until now, there was no way to recover.

He could only hope that this guy who signed the blood contract with him was a reliable guy.

“I was badly injured. If I didn’t do it, I would die. I just wanted to live.” The man coughed a few times with his mouth covered, and blood foams leaked between his fingers. He pointed a finger to the teen and said, “My name is Dong Zheng. This is my younger brother, Dong Linhai.”

Cui Zuojing covered his wounded chest with both hands. His face was expressionless, and he still didn’t speak.

The youth summoned by him seemed to be only 16 or 17 years old. Dong Zheng looked down at the card in his hand and slowly pronounced Cui Zuojing’s prisoner name, “Arabidopsis?”

Dong Linhai didn’t understand what he was saying. “Ah?”

“A plant commonly used in genetic research,” Dong Zheng explained to him in a low voice. He looked up at Cui Zuojing, took a deep breath, and said, “I’m really sorry, but since matter has come to this, follow us. I will treat you well.”

Cui Zuojing suddenly smiled.

He looked very good himself and appeared 16 years old. This made his smile seemed both innocent and artless. In response, he stepped forward and punched Dong Linhai in the stomach!

Linhai let out a cry and vomited watery bile.

“I can’t hurt you, but I can beat your younger brother. If not, how could I be here now?” Cui Zuojing smiled at Dong Zheng. “If you don’t want your younger brother to be killed by me, don’t use this kind of deficient tone to talk to me.”

The air once again fell into a terrible silence. Dong Zheng clearly saw the crazy thunderstorm and desperate cruelty fermenting in the youth’s eyes.

He suddenly understood that Cui Zuojing’s words were not just talk.

Unknown birds in the forest chirped with ridicule. There was no wind, and the air was humid, as if a heavy rain was about to arrive. Even the insects could not be heard.

Dong Zheng rushed to Dong Linhai, who had been hit by Cui Zuojing. He faced Cui Zuojing for a long time and finally gave in. “Okay, I won’t talk to you in that tone anymore. Thank you for helping me. We’re injured and now the situation is critical. It’s better for us to leave here first.”

Cui Zuojing took a deep breath and tried to calm down his anger. The blood contract was not the most terrible turn of events. As long as this person was not a fool, if all goes well, maybe he could become Cui Zuojing’s right-hand man.

He finally began to observe their surroundings. With only a cursory glance, he determined that they were in the general types of monster boxes. There were many kinds of boxes in this forest instance. These types consisted of nothing more than puzzle solving and escape.

The forest looked like it was in the subtropics. The trees and leaves were extremely lush, completely blocking the already dim moonlight. The forest was dark, and only the lantern hanging from the trunk glowed faintly, illuminating this small area.

There was the corpse of a crow at their feet, which had rotted and was squirming with maggots. Meanwhile, the bloodied breath of the three people attracted many blood-sucking insects. With Dong Linhai’s help, Dong Zheng simply bandaged his wounds and then offered some to Cui Zuojing. “Do you need help?”

The already deadly injury was evenly spread between the two of them. Cui Zuojing took the bandage and dealt with it briefly, but helping a stranger to bear the pain for no reason still made him extremely unhappy.

Dong Zheng took the lantern and looked down at the previously obtained map. “Let’s leave here as soon as possible. Something has been chasing us. It’s very sensitive to light and sounds, and we’ll be discovered soon.”

“No.” Cui Zuojing looked to the left, where there was a sound of grass blades being shifted. After a few seconds, a pair of eyes glowed scarlet at the end of the darkness.

“It has already caught up.”

—————————————
Xixi: I was initially taken aback at Cui Zuojing’s violent response, but then I realized that I would be pissed off too if I made a bunch of plans and it got ruined by two seemingly brainless newbs.

Anyway, this novel has an interesting concept. The end goal of a lot of escape room/survival game novels is usually the chance at rebirth. But, the premise of this novel is: What if you did everything right, only to discover that the bright light at the end of the dark tunnel—that promise of rebirth—was nothing but a beautiful lie?

Please don’t copy any of my works without permission. Thank you. 

Translation Notes:
The blacked out lines or words are from the original text.

 

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Anonymous
Anonymous
3 years ago

ohohoho~ first chapter and i'm already looking forward to the whole novel

Anonymous
Anonymous
3 years ago

Hello, can I translate this novel to Indonesian? It's okay if it's not allowed, I just wanted to share this story to people who can't understand english^^

Xixi
Xixi
3 years ago

Sure. Just remember to credit the author.

berta
berta
3 years ago

wow, so intense the first chapter. thank you for translating!

Unknown
Unknown
3 years ago

Damn… I so understand Cui Zoujing…. I'm also very pissed… Furious even!.

scarletnatsu
scarletnatsu
3 years ago

Well… I’m also gonna piss off if I’m MC. Here I am, chatting with my old acquintance while drinking a cup of wine, making plan for the future, and suddenly some guy force-summon me, making me enduring half of his brother’s wounds, and destroy all my future plan while at it. The guy is so lucky MC couldn’t kill him.

Kuchiki Risa
Kuchiki Risa
3 years ago

Waa thanks for the translation of the story 💕💕I had already started reading it doing MTL-ing a long time ago, but I did not understand much of it, so I will take the time to enjoy your translation again, I am restarting the reading again because I do not remember where I stay…😅

Paper and ink
Paper and ink
3 years ago

Wow I’m loving this novel already! Really curious about MC’s past. Thanks for the fantastic translation!

Sxng
Sxng
3 years ago

hi, Xixi! I have a question, I’m reading this novel and simply I love it! So, Can I translate him to Spanish? i’ll give you the credits obviously, the credits for you and for the autor, yes, yes, and thank you for the translation ❤️

Sxng
Sxng
3 years ago
Reply to  Xixi

I’ve read them and they all look great, so I’ll start translating them, thank you so much ❤️

Orange
Orange
3 years ago

Oh my God. First chapter and I am furious! But beating up the other guy slightly help calm me down. I am not surprised at how violent he got.

Dreamer
Dreamer
2 years ago

I’ve had this novel in the waiting list for a long time, wanting to read it after the translation is finished. Now that the main story is done, I’m starting my adventure into this novel. Finally!

The concept is really unique and different from other novels of the same genre. Even if some things are unknown and confusing at first, the world is simply interesting and makes readers want to know more about it

For the first chapter, it really hooks your interest, at least for me. Very much looking forward to the development of the plot!

Thank you Xixi for the wonderful translations and your hard work.

ruinthyself
ruinthyself
2 years ago

wow so badass huh!!! thank u for the chapter~

Haruki Natsuyu
Haruki Natsuyu
2 years ago

Dang! I waaa also taken aback by MC’s response! Poor Dong didi but I can’t help laughing sorry 🤣 also really irritating for plans do be suddenly ruined and has to bear half the critical wounds ugh. Anyway, enough with the Holy Father and Mary Sue MCs! I am in for this violent MC! Go go go! Enough of OP ML too. In for newbie ML! 🤣 the revenge plot seems like Quickly Wear the Face of Devil but this is unlimited flow though and very, very different from the QT aaaaa I already love this!

Yoru
Yoru
2 years ago

Yea i was kinda surprised from his response but at the same time I expected it. I even felt satisfied bc i feel like i would do the same too, i really hate those “ah it already happened so…” I’m glad he showed them how capable he is.

Baili
Baili
2 years ago

My first impression is very good 👍

Before I was reading danmei novels taking place in ancient times and now as I’m reading this infinite flow novel there are many new thing to discover

After first chapter I know this will be very interesting 😃

I have to thank my friend who recommended me this novel 😻

lin
lin
1 year ago

i had a few seconds of a violent urge to tear and rip up the ones who did the blood contract, like my whole world was falling apart, that didn’t stop tile CZ said it wasn’t the worst. ofc im exaggerating but yea jhfgzhajfk i don’t think it was too much to beat them, also considering (mostly) no emotions

Wolf
Wolf
1 year ago

I was so happy with the violence hahaha. That rude ass lil bro literally just forced him into a blood contract to bear his brother’s deadly wounds!! If i were him id be pretty pissed too. I was laughing when he let out some anger by punching him in the guts hehe

Qi Qi
Qi Qi
1 month ago

Chaotic first encounter~

Maria
Maria
27 days ago

I wasn’t expecting that but It got my attention. Love this already ❤️❤️