Chapter 22: Training Camp I
Translated by Shiya of Exiled Rebels Translations
The date of the camp was confirmed—it would be in the beginning of next month. After counting, one would notice that the trip was in less than four days.
Lu Shang was going to ask Uncle Yuen to prepare food and other materials for Li Sui to bring to the camp, but then he heard from Yue PengFei that the camp was a closed-off one. They wouldn’t even allow attendees to bring any electronic devices, let alone food and other materials. In other words, they only allowed you to bring yourself and nothing else.
Since Lu Shang had already agreed to it, he couldn’t refuse now. Luckily, it was in the mid-summer, so he didn’t have to worry about Li Sui getting a cold during the training camp. As such, Lu Shang only prepared a small medicine box with some medications and mosquito sprays.
The night before Li Sui had to leave, he quit studying. Instead, he took a shower very early on and just stuck to Lu Shang as much as possible afterwards.
Lu Shang was holding a vocabulary book with one hand, preaching Li Sui on the topic. Unexpectedly, Lu Shang didn’t lecture Li Sui for not paying attention, not only that, he brought Li Sui up to the study on the second floor.
Li Sui heard rumors that this was where Lu Shang’s father passed away, so very few people would come in here. Lu Shang pulled out the drawer of the desk in the middle of the room, he picked up a piece of ornament from the drawer. Batting away the dust, he handed it to Li Sui, “Here. Take it.”
“What is it?”
“A foldable blade.”
Li Sui held the piece in his hand, it was a little thing with an exquisite design. On a simple glance, it looked like nothing more than an ornament with a military emblem etched on top. However, there was a small hidden opening on the side, and when you pulled on an equally concealed lever on the badge, a sharp knife would pop out. Apart from being extremely sharp, the blade was also pure black in color. Li Sui wasn’t sure what the blade was made of, but it seemed to be able to absorb all light, giving it a somber luster. Even though Li Sui wasn’t an expert on knives and weapons, he could tell that this blade was no low-quality weapon. “I thought they won’t let us bring anything to the camp?”
Lu Shang pulled out a string, and after threading it through the ornament, he hung it on Li Sui’s neck, “Wear it just in case, as protection.” Li Sui was at least one head-space taller than Lu Shang, so when they stood face-to-face, Lu Shang had to tilt his head up to look at Li Sui.
“Are you giving this to me?” Li Sui held the ornament in his hand, his lovely eyes closing into a beautiful curve.
Lu Shang averted his gaze, “Once the mission is over, it will be yours.”
The second Lu Shang mentioned about the camp, Li Sui’s headache returned. Yue PengFei was worried—he left his two sons in his care, asking Li Sui to educate the two, and also not to let the two fight. However, Li Sui wasn’t much older than the two of them to begin with, so if even their father couldn’t handle them, what could Li Sui do?
“Honestly, is it a must for me to go with the two boat anchors?” Li Sui said dejectedly.
“You only have to ensure that they survive.” Lu Shang added, “For the rest, just do what you can. If it is dangerous, then it is your first priority to ensure your own well-being.”
Lu Shang’s reminders were a lot different from Yue PengFei’s; he felt touched but also found it funny. Lu Shang was protecting his own pup so obviously that Li Sui wondered if Yue PengFei were to hear Lu Shang now, would he be furious to death.
“What are you laughing at?” As Lu Shang asked, he began laughing himself as well, “Just have fun. Even if the sky collapsed, I will be there for you.”
The campsite was located amongst the woods of a mountain which was hundreds of kilometers away from the city. Walking further into the woods from the campsite would lead to an area called the Protected Woodlands. Because the campsite was in a very remote place, they couldn’t even get any bars on their phone, the only thing that could be used for communication were the communication satellites.
Lu Shang didn’t bring Li Sui there himself—he only asked Uncle Yuen to drive Li Sui to the foot of the mountain. The moment Li Sui got out of the car, he was immensely reluctant to leave. The feeling was similar to that of a child’s first day of school; even though he was feeling homesick already, he did his best to bottle these emotions up. Picking up the little medicine box, he walked up the mountain alone. As a man, since he promised Lu Shang, then no matter what he was going to fulfill his mission.
The path leading up to the campsite was a plank road, forests were on both sides of the path, and the environment was quite serene. However, the mountain lacked forestry management—the trees were too dense, so the path was poorly lit. On the way up, Li Sui began thinking about the poor maintenance; it was hard enough for a person to get up here, so it would be even harder for vehicles to reach the campsite. If anyone took a wrong turn and wandered out of the Protected Woodlands, it would be extremely hard to launch a rescue.
“The campsite’s main building is in front of you, that area is the forest area. There is a protective fence surrounding the whole training grounds; if there are no special reasons, don’t wander around on your own. That blue building is where you will be having your meals. These will be provided at seven in the morning, at twelve, and at six. We serve food on the clock—if you are late, then you will not be getting any food,” the trainer explained as he led Li Sui around the campsite. Finally, they went up a dormitory building. “This is the dormitory. Room 203, this is where you’re going to sleep.”
The room Li Sui got allocated to was a four-person room, when Li Sui opened the door, the bed near the window was already occupied. The person lying in bed was watching a movie on his tablet; seeing Li Sui, he raised his head and said a short “hi”. That face was a familiar one.
“Why are you here?” Li Sui asked, then his gaze went to the tablet in his hands, “I thought electronic appliances are not allowed.”
SiMa JingRong hit the side of his bed, signaling for Li Sui to sit down. Then he pulled out a can of coke from under the bed, handing the can to Li Sui, he said, “They only said we can’t bring any, but they didn’t say others can’t bring them to us.”
“But it’s basically useless.” SiMa JingRong waved his hand in the air, “There’s no signal here, so at best I can watch a movie or play some single-player games. It’s such a buzzkill.”
T/N: I feel you SiMa JingRong, my limited game events, stupid training camps!!!
As the two of them spoke, another duo entered the room, each holding a water bucket. The one walking in the front was a scrawny-looking teenager; he was about 16 or 17 years old, and his appearance was quite similar to SiMa JingRong, but his skin was paler, and he looked more intelligent. Li Sui guessed that this person must be SiMa Yan, the SiMa family’s youngest son.
The moment SiMa JingRong saw him, he turned his head to the side in dismay while clicking his tongue. The younger one, however, was polite—he glanced at SiMa JingRong, then nodded at Li Sui. The younger son was obviously more mature than the older one, it wasn’t hard to imagine why Yue PengFei preferred him.
“Hi, I’m Wang Wei.”
That was when Li Sui noticed that another person was at the door, he had a round face and a pair of thick glasses. The person called Wang Wei was smiling at Li Sui.
“I’m Li Sui.”
Wang Wei extended his neck in confusion, “Ha?”
Li Sui explained, “The Li for ‘dawn’, and Sui as in ‘deep’.”
“Oh…” Wang Wei nodded, he pointed at the water bucket at the floor, “You two have to go get some warm water, or else you won’t have any to take a bath tonight. There are no shower valves here.”
Li Sui nodded, he put his luggage down and was going to get a water bucket.
“Sorry, I forgot again.” Wang Wei stopped Li Sui, he pushed his glasses embarrassingly, “What is your name again?”
T/N: Haha, I gave the word Sui to all of my Chinese-speaking friends, and none of them knew the word.
Before Li Sui arrived at the campsite, he made a plan to smooth out the two SiMas’ relationship, and to train seriously to please the trainers. He was going to hold out until Lu Shang came to pick him up again in one month, then get his praises from Lu Shang. However, the heavens seemed to be against his plan—his plans were foiled on their first night at the campsite.
At first, it was because Wang Wei spoke too loudly, and it annoyed SiMa JingRong. So, he scolded Wang Wei for being too loud. SiMa Yan couldn’t accept SiMa JingRong’s rudeness, so he spoke a few words in Wang Wei’s defense. The two SiMas then began fighting in the room.
Clothes and pillows were thrown all around, they even threw SiMa JingRong’s tablet. Wang Wei’s hearing seemed to be faulty, he didn’t even think to stop the two, even when they were making so much noise. It took all of Li Sui’s strength to pull the two of them apart, he even got hit in the process, not knowing who hit him. The commotion notified the trainers in the lower floor, in no time, everyone in their room were kicked out for punishment. They were punished to stand outside in the woods.
Nights in the old forest were nothing like the ones in the city; there were no lights, it was as if the air around them were soaked in black ink—they couldn’t even see their own fingers. The weather was not in their favor. They couldn’t see the moon, and the only thing they could hear was the rustling of leaves. It always felt like someone was walking behind them, but when they turned back, nothing was there.
The howling of wolves from afar reached their ears, all of them were petrified. They were just kids who’d left home for the first time, none of them could handle being in a deserted place like this. Everyone shivered in the darkness, not daring to move an inch, worried that the wolves might come for them. SiMa JingRong was homesick from the second he entered this campsite, so now, standing in this chilly place, he began sobbing.
“You’re crying? How old are you already?” SiMa Yan scoffed.
SiMa JingRong stopped crying immediately, he turned to scold SiMa Yan, “You are doing this on purpose, aren’t you? You just want me to feel bad.”
“Yeah, it is on purpose. You’re the one who started it.”
“Oh, do you think I won’t hit you here?”
Li Sui’s headache grew; he was already missing Lu Shang so much, and these two’s screeching got him even more furious. Li Sui yelled, “Shut up, the both of you!”
The two really went silent. Li Sui continued, “From now on, resolve your affairs internally; everyone will suffer if the problems reach the trainers. Next time, whoever started it and joined in should take responsibility themselves. We are not going down with you.”
A gust of wind blew past them at the right moment. Li Sui finished his speech, and none of them said anything afterwards.
In this pitch-black environment, everyone thought of ghost stories to scare themselves, but that was just at the beginning. In no time, everyone was numb to the creepiness of the forest; instead, their upper and lower eyelids began fighting. None of them had any strength left to think of anything but sleep.
An uncertain amount of time had passed; just when Li Sui felt that both of his legs were going to give out, the trainer blew the whistle from the dormitory. Li Sui breathed a sigh of relief; slapping SiMa JingRong’s back, he said, “Let’s go. We can finally get some sleep.”
All of them were out of it after having to stand for so long, they pulled themselves back to the dormitory, dragging their feet like zombies. After walking for a while, they noticed that Wang Wei wasn’t with them. Turning back, they found Wang Wei still standing at the same position, his eyes were shut, and he was asleep. He just fell asleep standing there.
At night, Lu Shang was sitting at the office desk, looking at company documents. Uncle Yuen closed the door behind him, “They’ve reduced his sentence—he will be released in six years.”
Lu Shang nodded, “Thank you for your hard work.”
“You are not telling him about it?”
Lu Shang’s hand which was holding a pen trembled a bit, “It’s not the right time.”
After that, he remembered something and asked, “How is it at his end? Is he used to the new environment?”
“I heard from the person in the camp that they are getting along fine.”
Lu Shang’s mouth curved up a bit, “That’s good.”
At the same time, the four people who “were getting along fine” were rolling around on their beds. Their expressions were grim, as if they had nothing to live for anymore. There were too many mosquitoes, and they were also very big. When they were in the forest, their four limbs were numbed by the cold wind. After they returned to the dormitories, they began to feel itchy all over, their limbs were covered in mosquito bites. It was red, itchy, and swelling.
Luckily, Lu Shang was meticulous and preparative, so all the crucial items were present in the little box Lu Shang prepared especially for Li Sui. He took out the soothing, antiseptic spray, he sprayed the thing all over his limbs, then handed it to Wang Wei. Wang Wei didn’t take it, and he pulled up his long trousers to show that he was fine, so Li Sui gave it to SiMa Yan.
SiMa Yan was the most mosquito attracting one among them, he was the youngest, so his skin was thinner and paler. The mosquito bites looked especially red and serious on his skin, him alone used up almost half the bottle of spray.
After he finished treating the rashes, he threw the can to SiMa JingRong. The latter didn’t take the bottle though, he turned around and directly fell asleep.
If it were under normal conditions, Li Sui would try to persuade him a bit, but he was exhausted, so he didn’t have the strength to care about that. Climbing back onto the bed and lying down, Li Sui held the military blade tight under the blanket. He imagined that person’s slightly lower body temperature; finally, his hanging heart found its footing, and he calmed down.
The next morning, before the sun was up, the campsite was filled with the sounds of whistles. Each round was louder than the last, as if it was an emergency siren. Li Sui thought something was wrong, so he jumped up from the bed in a scare.
“Quick. It’s the assembly whistle!” Wang Wei turned on his sides quickly, then he jumped down directly from the upper bunk of the bed; he rushed to the bathroom immediately and occupied the water basin for himself. Li Sui went to wake the big and small SiMas, then he took the water bucket and washed up in the bathroom. Li Sui glanced at Wang Wei through the mirror; it was weird—he originally thought Wang Wei’s sense of hearing was poor, but somehow he was so sensitive to the whistle. He was so alerted to them as if they were gunshots.
Wang Wei was fast; he finished washing up and brushing his teeth in no time. His clothes were already changed last night. It was as if he already knew they needed to assemble this early today.
The whistling outside strengthened, footsteps came from the rooms beside them, that made Li Sui hurry up as well. When he finished washing up and came out of the bathroom, he found that SiMa JingRong was still lying in bed sleeping.
“Wake up!” Li Sui rushed over and pulled him up.
SiMa JingRong swung his hand away in annoyance, then he planted his face back into the blanket. Li Sui cursed how this iron couldn’t become steel, then he raised his hand and pulled his blanket out.
“What in the world are you doing? The sun’s not even up yet.”
“We have to assemble! Hurry up!”
SiMa JingRong finally woke up. The whistling outside was consistent; finally, with one last especially sharp whistle, the racket stopped. Wang Wei rushed back into the room suddenly, then he pulled Li Sui’s arm and ran outside, “We’re late already, leave those two. Let’s go.”
When they went down the building, Li Sui realized, there were more participants than he had imagined, around forty something people were already assembled on the ground floor. Among the crowd, there were even two females, they looked pretty young as well. From their appearances and behavior, they seemed to be from wealthy families.
The sky was not lit up completely, so everything looked grey. Li Sui and Wang Wei were late, so they could only stand on the sides.
“Late on the first day.” The trainer looked displeased. He then walked around the hall with hands behind his back, inspecting everyone. When he walked past a short male attendee, he suddenly stopped, pulling up the necklace on the male’s neck, “What is this? A gold necklace. What are you here for, a beauty pageant?”
The hall burst into laughter.
“Laugh? Did I say you lot could laugh?” The trainer scolded again.
The hall immediately returned to silence; the trainer scanned everyone in the hall, then he ordered, “Take off all the stupid ornaments! If I see another one, I will throw them away.”
The sound of chatters swirled around Li Sui. Wang Wei even took his wristwatch off; Li Sui frowned slightly, his hand pressed on the blade at his chest in secret.
Everyone put the ornaments they took off into the basket, when the basket was handed to Li Sui, he didn’t budge. He even prepared a speech if they wanted him to take the blade off. The trainer just took a glance at Li Sui, then he asked, “Where are the other two people in your room?”
As the trainer grilled Li Sui, SiMa Yan ran down the stairs in a hurry with mismatched socks, a lot of the other attendees began giggling.
“Vice-captain, mark their time.” The trainer said coldly and turned away. Li Sui breathed a sigh of relief.
The vice-captain was the one who guided Li Sui around the campsite when he first arrived. His surname was Lee, he was a person of only a few words, and he was very serious. After hearing the trainer’s directions, he started the stopwatch in his hand, the three of them immediately had a very bad feeling about what was going to happen.
“How come everyone looks like they’ve come prepared for the assembly?” Li Sui scanned everyone in the hall, then asked Wang Wei.
Wang Wei pushed his glasses up his nose and said, “Assemble at five-thirty everyday here, the ones who are late will be punished. They must have set an alarm beforehand.”
“Assemble at five-thirty?” SiMa Yan said in confusion.
“The trainer informed me yesterday.” Wang Wei paused, “Did I not tell you guys?”
Li Sui, “……”
SiMa Yan, “……”
The greyness in the sky began to disperse, a few sips of light reached the hall through the trees. Others in the hall got less patient, and they began chit-chatting. When the trainer’s face turned almost as black as a piece of coal, SiMa JingRong finally swung his legs down the stairs. When he got near, a rich smell of hair gel could be made out, this guy wasted his time putting on hair gel!
“Good.” The trainer’s face turned pale from being angry for too long, “How long was he late?”
“Twenty-eight minutes, twenty-seven seconds.”
The trainer turned from being angry to giving out a light laugh, he ordered, “Everyone, run ten laps, then have breakfast.”
Everyone in the hall began wailing, the trainer turned to his back, “You four, do you see that waterfall outside?”
Li Sui looked out following the direction the trainer was pointing to. Amongst the trees, there was a waterfall; it was around ten to fifteen meters tall—it wasn’t big, but it wasn’t small either.
“There are watermelons growing up there, go get one. If you can’t get any, then no food for today.” After leaving his order, the trainer left, not caring about them anymore.
“Watermelon?” SiMa JingRong said, hearing his voice, the other three looked at him like seeing their arch nemesis or something along those lines. SiMa Yan was especially annoyed, “Can you be quicker next time? You aren’t going to a beauty pageant, don’t put on hair gel. Who do you want to lure anyways?”
“I…” SiMa JingRong was going to refute, but before he could speak, Li Sui slapped his hand on his mouth and pushed him out, “Let’s go out and have a look.”
The waterfall didn’t have much waterflow, beneath it was a huge collection of water, the color looked deep. Near the rocks were scores of green vines, the vines were around as thick as a thumb, not sure if it could bear any weight.
“I think we need to swim over and climb up the vines.” Wang Wei said.
They were all males, so they did not have any awkwardness when it came to taking off clothes for a dive. Wang Wei was the first to take off his shirt and pants, he only kept his underwear on. He dipped his feet into the water and said, “It’s not deep, my legs could reach the bottom.”
SiMa JingRong looked a little worried, “There aren’t any weird things in the water, are there? Like snakes or dragons or something.”
“Then you wait up here, when I found a dragon, I will give one to you.” SiMa Yan scoffed, after warming up, he jumped into the water swiftly.
His banters went straight into SiMa JingRong’s heart, he wasn’t going to lose to SiMa Yan, so he took his clothes off and jumped into the water with a much more extravagant pose, splashing water everywhere.
Li Sui stood at the sides of the pond, his fingers tightened a bit.
“Li Sui?” Wang Wei asked in oddness, the other two looked at him as well after Wang Wei mentioned Li Sui.
Li Sui hesitated for a bit, but still decided to take off his T-shirt. Under the sun, the terrifying scars were shown in front of the others. Scars from being scalded, from cigarettes, and cut scars… on his back, there was even something that looked like a gunshot wound.
All three of them were spoiled and pampered from the day they were born; they’d cry for days after getting a tiny cut on the finger. None of them had seen such gruesome scars in their entire life before, it was especially shocking when the scars were on their teammate. SiMa JingRong’s face turned the palest after seeing Li Sui’s wounds, the shock turned into anger, “Did he abuse you?”
Li Sui got into the water; it took him a while before he understood who the “he” SiMa JingRong was referring to, the “he” was referring to Lu Shang. Li Sui looked back at SiMa JingRong with eyes that read, “Do you have a screw loose?”
Sadly, that gaze in SiMa JingRong’s interpretation became, “Unspoken suffering”. He balled his hands into fists, anger filled his face, “I can’t believe he is someone capable of such things!”
Li Sui didn’t know SiMa JingRong had already fantasized a whole backstory of sexual abuse for him. Plots like the ravishing teenager who was subjected to lashing and physical abuse but still refused to give in to the abuser’s will, finally becoming a being to be revered at… Just look at these scars, Lu Shang must be mistreating him. If Lu Shang were good to Li Sui, would he send Li Sui to this hellish place to suffer, just like how his dad did. Who would have thought that Lu Shang who always seemed polite and elegant, was actually an abuser, a wolf in sheep’s clothing?
T/N: lol, Li Sui is dreaming about pinning Lu Shang to the bed and you think he’s pure and noble.
“From now on, bro will support you.” It was as if SiMa JingRong found a bestie; his eyes were red as he patted Li Sui’s shoulder. His face read, “Your bro understands, your bro will protect you.”
Li Sui pulled his hand away, and he said in a cold voice, “You should promptly get treatment for mental illnesses.”