Chapter 2 – To Meet Once Again
Nie Yan increasingly neared the pharmacy. However, as he was crossing the road, as if by some supernatural occurrence, he tripped and fell hard onto the pavement.
When one reaches the peak of happiness, sorrow is soon to strike.
「Ssssss…ah.」Nie Yan hissed in pain. His hands felt numb from breaking the fall, and his knee was bleeding from scraping off the pavement.
Nie Yan sat up with great difficulty; his knee had been badly cut open, exposing raw flesh and blood.
At that time, a pink hovercar happened to be passing through the area. It halted, not far from where Nie Yan had fallen. The hovercar was of top quality, truly a rare sight in this peaceful little town. It appeared to be a limited edition hovercar, valued around ninety million dollars—something an ordinary family certainly couldn’t afford.
A young lady in a white skirt appeared, stepping out after the car door was opened. Urgently, she ran over to where Nie Yan had fallen.
“Fellow student, are you alright?” A clear and pleasant voice appeared to be deeply concerned as it passed through Nie Yan’s ears.
Hearing this voice so familiar to his heart, his soul began to tremble. He turned his head to look; if the person appearing before his eyes wasn’t Xie Yao, then who else could it be?
She was wearing a white dress dotted with pink lace, her hair was tied behind her back as her clear and charming eyes gazed on with concern. Her cheeks, appearing still somewhat childish, were brimming with youth and life. She was still as beautiful as ever.
Nie Yan absentmindedly recalled the high school reunion that had occurred six years after his graduation. At that time, Xie Yao had become a successful businesswoman. She had worn a beautiful and enchanting OL dress.
Time was indeed a wondrous thing—changing a pure and innocent young girl into a charming and beautiful woman… and at present, once again changing her back.
After a whole lifetime, I’ve met you again…. Perhaps this is fate, our destinies rewinding like magnetic tape, placing us two once again at where we first encountered. Melodious music slowly began playing in his soul; every single note so pleasant and beautiful to listen to.
Nie Yan still kept the memories of the day Xie Yao and him had first come across each other; it had mirrored this exact scene. His eyes were moist, Xie Yao… I haven’t seen you in such a long time. Are you still doing fine? In this lifetime, I’ll never let you go again….
“Ah! Your knee is badly scraped, and it’s bleeding badly!” Xie Yao called out in alarm. After recalling that the first aid kit in her car still had a few bandages, she quickly ran back to retrieve them.
Nie Yan watched as Xie Yao returned to her vehicle. During his senior year, what he loved to do the most was follow her elegant little figure with his eyes. Glancing at her seductive figure, her knee length skirt revealed snow-white skin that resembled exquisite jade. On that topic, Nie Yan’s appearance also couldn’t be considered too bad. Following his father’s success, his financial circumstances had also become pretty good; he wasn’t the least bit inferior to Xie Yao. However, when facing her, he could never rouse up enough courage to interact with her.
His state of mind during senior year was odd and hard to fathom. Looking back as an adult, he felt he truly was too immature at the time.
Xie Yao grabbed the bandages and walked over to Nie Yan’s side. She then began disinfecting the wound with antiseptics. Moving with extreme care, she picked off the tiny bits of gravel with her delicate fingers.
“How can you cry? You’re already a grown boy. How could a little wound like this cause you to tear up. It’s not a very good appearance, you know!~”Xie Yao smiled teasingly while using her thumb to massage Nie Yan’s bruised knee.
When she smiled, the corners of her mouth exposed her slight dimples, revealing a type of indescribably bright charm.
“When I fell, there was just a little dust that got into my eyes.” Nie Yan’s cheeks became a little red as he absentmindedly replied with an excuse. The real reason he had cried wasn’t due to the injury on his knee in the slightest. It was Xie Yao’s appearance which caused him to feel as if boiling hot water had been poured over his head. His state of mind was in a chaotic mess: an overwhelming amount of bitterness and joy mixed together wanted to surge out of him.
Xie Yao’s attention was singlemindedly focused on Nie Yan’s bruised knee.
Nie Yan raised his head and gazed at Xie Yao’s face as she leaned in towards him. Her skin, like flawless white jade, was tender and supple. A strand of black hair hung down as he gazed at the beautiful earrings that hung from her earlobes.
In the past when he and Xie Yao were deskmates, he always liked to secretly peek at her during class time. Though no matter how much he looked, he felt he could never look enough.
Xie Yao was without a doubt the prettiest girl in their class, however other classes had very pretty girls too. Nie Yan, on the other hand, firmly believed Xie Yao was the most beautiful girl in the entire school.
After their first encounter, Nie Yan had never forgotten her. Later on when he entered his senior year of high school, he was surprised to discover the both of them were in the same class. Not only that… but they were also deskmates as well. He came to believe this occurrence was predestined. It wasn’t until ten years later that he came to understand… even if two people were fated to be together, if one didn’t properly seize their opportunity, they would miss their chance. By the time he became aware of this, it was already too late.
“How could you come here all by yourself!? This is a really dangerous area where a lot of criminals operate!” Nie Yan said in a genuinely concerned tone. It truly was an area occupied by many criminal organizations. An especially dangerous place for a beautiful young girl like Xie Yao to be alone.
“Don’t underestimate me! I’m a third level black belt in taekwondo! After I turn twenty-one, I’ll be able to advance onto the fourth level. If you don’t believe me, then let me show you!” Xie Yao took up an open stance, then suddenly halted as her face turned dizzily red. She stalled and said, “Actually, nevermind… I’m wearing a skirt today, but I really am super strong!” Xie Yao said innocently without the slightest trace of scheming.
Nie Yan replied with a laugh, and after chatting with Xie Yao for a while, he confirmed that this young lady in front of him was indeed Xie Yao—the girl who was so sincere, lovable, lively, and carefree. Yet after graduating university and meeting up once again, that sort of lively innocence soon became something he could never see again. It turns out going through a stressful period of time would indefinitely change anyone…
Xie Yao began sizing Nie Yan up a bit. Compared to herself, he seemed to be younger than her by a few years. His height was also roughly the same as hers, appearing to be only around a hundred seventy centimeters in height. The clothes he wore were a little dirty, possibly from falling over just now. Appearance wise—although he couldn’t be regarded as handsome—he was passable. Only, she didn’t seem to know why, but she felt an indescribable sort of familiarity and closeness towards Nie Yan. Unknowingly, they ended up chatting for quite a while.
“What school are you from? From your appearance… it looks as though you should be studying in middle school, right?” Xia Yao felt Nie Yan was a little bit foolish and empty-headed, so silly it was slightly adorable. Not minding the ground while he was running; many boys from middle school were foolish like this. They become a lot more mature by the time they reach high school.
Although Nie Yan was eighteen years old right now, he had the wisdom of a twenty-eight-year-old. When he met with Xie Yao once again, Nie Yan was no longer the confused, ignorant little boy he had been in the past. His spirit had been refined and tempered by the passage of time; he had become calm and collected.
“Who said I’m in middle school? If it weren’t for the country’s child policy, my son would already be old enough to buy groceries himself!” Nie Yan replied jokingly. As a person, one shouldn’t be so deadpan and boring.
“Your son? Buying groceries himself? Stop joking around!” Nie Yan’s words had caused Xie Yao to burst out into laughter, causing her to giggle nonstop.
“Are you really eighteen? You don’t look like you’re around my age,” Xie Yao said in surprise.
Due to being a bit malnourished, Nie Yan’s present height was evidently a bit short—around a hundred sixty-five centimetres tall. When his living conditions had improved later on, his height soared up to a hundred eighty centimetres by the time he had reached his senior year of highschool. His current appearance still seemed that of a juvenile, and he really did look like a middle schooler. This was the reason why he had always looked a little depressed.
The most unfortunate thing for him as a twenty-eight-year-old, was unexpectedly being told he looked like a middle school student. However, he really did look baby-faced at present, so there was nothing that could be done. “This is because my face looks naturally younger compared to others.”
“If you’re young, you’re young. You still won’t admit it?” Xie Yao replied giggling. She came to feel this Nie Yan was a pretty amusing person. All the boys in her class were always either shy when they met her, never knowing what to say, or haughty delinquents that brought her disgust.
The two talked for quite a while. Nie Yan appeared very comfortable when conversing with Xie Yao; occasionally teasing her with a few clever quips that made her laugh.
Nie Yan gazed at Xie Yao’s smiling expression that was simply beautiful. It reminded him of the time he had graduated high school. Xie Yao and him had been deskmates for a year, and he had always believed the two of them could never form any sort of connection. They were two people from completely different worlds. He continued to admire Xie Yao in secret, gifting Xie Yao whatever she asked for. However, he had never made a demand for Xie Yao to remember a lowly person such as himself. Never did he expect that after graduation he would unexpectedly receive a gift from her. Perhaps, he really had left an impression in Xie Yao’s heart.
What appeared in the gift was a photograph of Xie Yao as a twelve-year-old. At the time, she was still a chubby little fat girl. It was a picture that would only be shared with someone she considered herself to be close to.
After graduation, Nie Yan remained incapable of forgetting Xie Yao and both of them continued to stay in touch.
After being reborn, Nie Yan would never again allow himself to miss his opportunity.
Having once more encountered each other, Nie Yan’s state of mind fell into somewhat of a daze. In his past life, and in his current life, he and Xie Yao shared an unbreakable bond tied by fate.
Her clear and limpid eyes stealthily glanced at Nie Yan’s face, sizing him up. Although Nie Yan wasn’t particularly handsome, even looking very ordinary at first, and despite looking very childish, he had a very indescribable calmness. Perhaps it has to do with his personality?
“My name is Nie Yan (聂言). The Nie written with ‘pair’ (双) and ‘ear’ (耳), and the Yan written as ‘word’ (言) in ‘language’ (語言),” Nie Yan said while looking at Xie Yao eye to eye.
Xie Yao’s charming face became flustered as she tried to avoid Nie Yan’s gaze.
“I’m called Xie Yao….”
Nie Yan shifted his gaze downwards, stopping at Xie Yao’s lips. They were a faint pink in colour—soft with a glossy allure. The previous Nie Yan in his senior year of high school would absolutely never dare to gaze at Xie Yao’s face in such a way. He had only dared to stealthily sneak glances at Xie Yao’s beautiful face from the corner of his eye.
“My father is still waiting for me, so I-I’ll be leaving first…. I felt very happy chatting with you today. But remember, you can only remove your bandage by tomorrow! You definitely can’t remove it any earlier!” Xie Yao didn’t feel assured, so she repeatedly warned Nie Yan as she stood up.
Nie Yan attempted to move his knee a bit, and noticed that he was able to do so without issue—the wound was only superficial.
“I’m alright. I can already walk again, so you should go back now. Also, thank you for today,” Nie Yan replied. Despite wanting to talk with Xie Yao for a little while longer, he ended up walking back to the curb. They would be studying at the same high-class city school in the future, and he would have plenty of opportunities to get to know her then.
“I’ll be leaving first then….”
“Bye bye,” Nie Yan replied smiling, as he began strolling away. As he walked up to the pharmacy, he couldn’t help but feel a little sentimental in his heart. After briefly meeting one another, they parted once again.
Xie Yao sat in her hovercar and started it back up.
Nie Yan turned his head and glanced back, but by that time Xie Yao’s hovercar had already departed. They had met in the past like this, completely by accident. However, it didn’t go as smoothly as this last time, as the previous him hadn’t even been able to form a single coherent word in front Xie Yao. The Xie Yao back then had wrapped up his leg with a bandage and left right after. Though it was this chance encounter, caused by his carelessness, that allowed Xie Yao to leave an inerasable mark in his heart. It was to the extent where he had never forgotten her.
Reincarnating is such a wonderful thing; everything could once again start afresh. Nie Yan then came to think, his everything could very likely be snatched away by Cao Xu in a couple of years down the road. In his mind rose a strong sense of urgency…. He had to become much more powerful to be able to protect everything that he held dear.
Thinking about Cao Xu, Nie Yan’s heart gradually grew colder. This was a loathing that penetrated deep into one’s marrow—to the extent where he felt not the slightest hesitation in putting a bullet through his enemy’s head.
However for now, all he was currently able to do was seize his opportunity and enter Conviction as quickly as possible, to set up an early foundation in the game. Conviction was unlike any other game, naturally because it was humanity’s second world; a game that had transformed the entire globe. Nie Yan could obtain what he wanted by playing Conviction.
At the pharmacy he bought a few packets of cold medicine. As he swallowed it down, he immediately felt his body relax as his fever receded. At present, he felt the medicine’s effects to be very satisfactory.
After he finished up in the pharmacy, he walked over to the department store in the area. He planned to buy a Virtual Reality helmet.
Every department store had a dazzling lineup of products within. They had many kinds of appliances and devices; so many, they couldn’t be counted. For the most part, they were all smart devices. There were some products Nie Yan wasn’t even able to name. This place had no sales representatives; you only need swipe your card and you’d be able to receive whatever you wanted to buy.
Half a day had passed since Nie Yan left his house, and finally he had reached the section where they sold Virtual Reality helmets. They were displayed one by one stacked on top of the wall. It was a feast for the eyes; there were three entry models differentiated by thousands of styles, patterns, and designs.
The lowest price was thirteen hundred credits while the most expensive reached upwards of a million and two hundred thousand credits.
The higher the price, the better the configuration. You get what you pay for, and at present Nie Yan could only afford the cheapest configuration.
Besides the currently available Virtual Reality helmets, there were also limited edition ones that could be purchased only by making a reservation. Their prices reached upwards of sixty million credits.
Regarding these helmets, at present, Nie Yan could only wish for them in his thoughts—nothing more.
Nie Yan swiped his card at the register. He had chosen a light-blue coloured helmet, and furthermore bound it to his identity. Once his identity was registered to the helmet, it could only be used by him from then on.
Conviction had only been released seven days ago, thus the highest leveled player was probably only level 5. So he still had plenty of time to catch up.
After having been reborn, he should be able to effortlessly obliterate any opponent in his way in a grand and imposing manner. “Step up to the highest peak, and all mountains below will be seen as insignificant.”