Chapter 2: Abused Male Lead
In his previous life, Shen Yuan had been well-off growing up, and could qualify as a modestly wealthy second-gen.1 He had two older brothers, set to inherit the family business, and a little sister he doted on. The entire family had been very close.
From early on he’d known, that even if he idled the rest of his life away, he’d never want for food. Perhaps it was due to this carefree environment, devoid of competition and pressure, but he’d always believed that as long as
Therefore, he never understood what scum villains like Shen Qingqiu were thinking while digging their own graves.
The original Shen Qingqiu, if it was about cultivation, he had that; qualifications, he had that as well; the self-restraint required to put on an act, he also had that. He lacked neither standing nor reputation, and with the world’s largest sect supporting him he’d never want for money, so why, when it came to the poise expected of an immortal, did he have none at all? Why act like one of those bitter, shut-in2 concubines from the old days, the ones with too much time to spare, picking at the most harmless of things, scheming day in and day out about how to torment the protagonist, and even getting others to do it for him.
Even if Luo Binghe had god-given talent, even if his learning ability was exceptional, to the point it seemed like he was cheating…there was still no need to envy him to this extent, ah?
Still, the blame didn’t really lie with him, but with the author. These types of villains were everywhere in the novel, as numerous as carp in a river; it was just his character had been especially detailed, and especially rotten.
What could you do? The ultimate BOSS in this book was the protagonist himself. How could a firefly outshine the sun and moon?
The cultivation world had called him “Xiu Ya sword,” so naturally he’d had the appearance and bearing to match.
For instance, now, Shen Qingqiu turned his head left and right, finding even his muddied reflection in the bronze mirror quite satisfying.
It was a face with good features: pitch-black eyes and brows, thin nose and lips, very much the air of a scholar. Combined with a slender body and long legs, he could at least be considered beautiful. Though his real age was unclear, this was a cultivation novel: Shen Qingqiu had achieved mid-Core Formation, which meant he’d perfectly preserved a youthful appearance. Certainly many times better-looking than what he’d head-canoned while reading.
Though he still couldn’t compare to Luo Binghe.
Thinking of Luo Binghe, Shen Qingqiu was immediately struck with a pounding headache. He wanted to go see the Luo Binghe who was currently shut in the woodshed, but as soon as he took a single step, that ear-piercing alert rang in his mind again.
[Warning! OOC Warning! “Shen Qingqiu” would not take the initiative to visit Luo Binghe.]
Shen Qingqiu angrily said, “Fine. Then I’ll get someone else to bring him; no problems then, right.”
He thought for a moment, then called, “Ming Fan!”
A youth around sixteen-years old, tall and thin, promptly ran in through the door, saying, “This disciple is here. What is Shifu’s command?”
Shen Qingqiu couldn’t help but send a couple more glances his way: he could be considered respectable-looking, just that his face was a bit unfortunate.3 Inside his heart, Shen Qingqiu tsked, lamenting: “As expected, a cannon fodder’s appearance.”
This, was the original Shen Qingqiu’s most senior disciple, Luo Binghe’s shixiong Ming Fan.
This, was the legendary, lowest-level cannon fodder!
Needless to say, when it came to things like shutting Luo Binghe out of the dorms late at night, or purposely giving him false cultivation tips, Ming Fan had a hand in all of them. Whenever Shen Qingqiu felt inclined to torment Luo Binghe, he was always his most useful assistant, his most enthusiastic supporter.
Knowing this child’s fate in the original work wasn’t much better than his own, Shen Qingqiu couldn’t help looking at him with the gaze of a fellow victim: “Go bring Binghe here.”
Internally, Ming Fan was unnerved: whenever their master had called for Luo Binghe, it was always “that little beast,” “ungrateful brat,” “this wretch,” “whelp;”4 he’d hardly ever used his full name, so why the intimate address, all of a sudden.
But this was their master’s command; Ming Fan didn’t dare question it, and immediately jogged to the woodshed, kicking the door twice: “Come out! Shizun’s calling you!”
Shen Qingqiu paced inside the room, vigorously examining the System within his mind.
[B-points, also known as the points given for putting on airs.5 The higher the B-points, the higher the quality, the more magnificent, the better the rating.]
Then, how can I raise my B-points?
[One, change the nonsensical plot, and raise the villains’ and side cast’s IQs; two, avoid breaking the suspension of belief; three, ensure the protagonist’s gratification levels; four; discover and complete hidden plot points.]
Shen Qingqiu analyzed each one by one.
That is to say, not only did he have to clean up the original Shen Qingqiu’s messes, the Shen Qingqiu who’d amassed a mountain of grudges, he also had to prevent other characters from creating more messes.
He didn’t even know if he could preserve his own sorry life, yet he still needed to ensure that the protagonist’s OPness, spotlight, and number of girls weren’t reduced.
All those unsolved mysteries, those plot lines the author had dropped, now he had to personally sweat away while collecting each, wrapping them up himself.6
Great God Airplane Shooting Towards the Sky had said, < < Proud Immortal Demon Way> >’s purpose was very clear; each word had been written with a single goal in mind, that was, to be gratifying.
Especially the way the darkened, OP male lead would play innocent, a fake pig hunting tigers, exacting revenge schemes against lowlifes, all gratifying enough to overturn the heavens. So the work’s popularity had swelled red-hot, growing longer and longer, until no foot-binding cloth could compare in length.
Shen Qingqiu thought, just keeping a decent track of the plot was already very stressful. Points that had broken the suspension of disbelief were everywhere, he couldn’t guarantee that he’d avoid all of them!
Shen Qingqiu said, “What kind of plot would qualify as not nonsensical?”
[The standard is subjectively determined; it depends on the readers’ reactions.]
“Then how many points do I need to collect, to launch the starting-stage missions?”
[The timing is situationally determined. When the requirements have been met, the System will automatically notify you.]
Subjectively determined, situationally determined; what magic words7 they were. Shen Qingqiu scoffed a laugh, then hearing the door open, looked back and saw a youth slowly walk in.
Even though his movements were unsteady, he still managed to stand perfectly straight, and respectfully called, “Shizun.”
The small smile that had been forming at the corner of Shen Qingqiu’s mouth froze.
He’d be killed! This was the face that would infatuate everyone in the future, from eighty-year-old women to swaddled infants, the Gary Stu protagonist’s face, and he’d beaten it to this extent; he’d definitely be killed!
But, even though his face bore clear evidence of abuse, and was covered in injuries, the protagonist was, as expected, still the protagonist!
Luo Binghe’s two eyes were as bright as morning stars; the tender beginnings of a handsome young man.
That firm yet humble countenance, demonstrating his noble and unyielding attitude.
That pencil-straight back and stance, a proud core that would rather break than bend!
In that instant, a flood of parallelisms and stylistic devices surged in Shen Qingqiu’s heart, passage after passage jumbling together to form countless phrases of praise that almost spilled forth!
Luckily, Shen Qingqiu managed to rein them in, internally yelling about how close it’d been; the hardware of this protagonist halo was really too excellent; he almost couldn’t hold back!
He watched Luo Binghe limp through the door, then struggle to kneel. Shen Qingqiu’s mouth twitched, thinking, I can’t afford your respects; if you pay me your respects today, I might be kneecapped by you in the future, and immediately stopped him by saying, “No need.”
He flicked his wrist, tossing over a small bottle: “This is medicine.” He stopped, then added in a mocking tone, “Don’t let outsiders see, and think my Qing Jing Peak abuses its disciples.”
Shen Qingqiu had entered his role quickly: even though he’d done something incredibly daring like handing over medicine, he’d also chosen a nasty attitude, and could be considered to be in line with Shen Qingqiu’s trait of hypocrisy, to do evil things yet fear others knowing.
Indeed, the System didn’t send an OOC alert; Shen Qingqiu let out a sigh of relief.
Luo Binghe had expected that his Shizun had called him to continue “teaching,” and could never have thought it’d be to give him medicine; at first he froze, then respectfully used both hands to receive the small bottle, saying with honest gratitude, “Thank you for the medicine, Shizun.”
At this point in time, Luo Binghe’s face was still full of innocence, his smile sincere and gentle, like the warm dawning sun. Shen Qingqiu stared for a while, then turned his head away.
This male lead’s personality pre-darkening, was that of a model and upright youth; shine a bit of sunlight on him and he’d glow, give him a scrap of goodwill and he’d return it tenfold, that type, to say he was a little sheep would not be excessive.
Luo Binghe then happily continued, “This disciple will henceforth redouble his efforts, and not let Shizun be disappointed.”
Eh, no, if you redouble your efforts, I’m guessing your original Shizun would then really be disappointed…
If Shen Qingqiu had not read < < Proud Immortal Demon Way> >
As it was, he’d seen everything from beginning to end as an omniscient reader, and been privy to Luo Binghe’s plentiful and colorful thoughts post-darkening. To summarize, Luo Binghe was pitiful now, but in the future he’d grind his heel into others’ faces, while laughing with reckless malevolence. Though he wore the mask of a kind and humble gentleman, inside all he thought about was how he’d rip out your tendons, pull out your bones, peel off your skin, then hang it all out to dry.
“Luo Binghe smiled and said, ‘The humiliation this disciple suffered in the past, today I’ll return it one hundred-fold. For hurting my hands and feet, I’ll tear off your limbs and grind them to dust.’”— < < Proud Immortal Demon Way> >, featured paragraph number two
Afterward, he’d really carved Shen Qingqiu into a human stick.8
Shen Qingqiu moved to sit in a narra9 chair, and picking an aloof tone, said, “Binghe, how’s your cultivation progress?”
That single “Binghe” caused frightened goosebumps to rise all over his body. Luo Binghe also obviously shuddered, but he still gave a smile tinged with shyness: “This disciple is stupid, and still…failed to understand.”
That was. An incorrect cultivation manual; that he hadn’t had a qi deviation10 was thanks to his incredible durability as the protagonist, to actually understand would be a miracle. Shen Qingqiu yelled within his heart: Boy, you come under me! This master will give you the correct methods!
That demonic alert started blaring incessantly. Shen Qingqiu said to the System, “I was just thinking it. Of course I know that’s a violation!”
Next, he casually said, “Today, this master punished you out of impatience; all in all, time waits for no one. Thinking about it, you’ve been under me for a while; how old are you this year?”
Luo Binghe obediently said, “This disciple is fourteen.”
Eh, fourteen, ah.
That is to say, the Shen Qingqiu and Luo Binghe master-disciple pair, by this point, had already gone through the incident at the mountain entrance where he’d been forced to kneel as punishment, the Qing Jing Peak gang beating by his fellow disciples, the “backtalking” Shizun incident where he’d been strung up and beaten, the instrument-breaking incident where he’d been punished with hard labour…such a glorious track record waves goodbye.
Shen Qingqiu rested his forehead on one hand while waving him away with the other: “I wish to be alone.”
- Hello everyone! Reika asked me to do an explanation on why we’re re-translating the early chapters. Basically, there are two versions of the Scum Villain novel, the original one serially released in chapters by
MXTX(used by the old translations on cnoveluv), and the official one hosted on JJWXC and used for all print versions. Basically, MXTX went back over everything after she finished and edited using her complete knowledge of the novel, and that became the official version, which is what we’re using for translations now.
- The official version has not been censored, nor has its plot changed, but the quality of writing, in my opinion, is vastly improved. She added quite a few things: foreshadowing, irony, description, dialogue, characterization, and little details that really pay off if you do a close read of the text, and even if you don’t, the official versions are much more professional-feeling, with a smoother flow. When JJWXC was still up, I always encouraged everyone who could read Chinese to read the official version. So I hope I can bring a little of that to the English fandom as well.
- This chapter is by Fae of BC Novels and http://faelicy.tumblr.com/.
- *cough* More importantly, the edited version has more extra chapters. *whispers* Does it have more of….
that? 🍌🍌🍌 And by that I mean the thing that thirsty fujoshis/fudanshis want.
- Thanks for reading!
- 富二代, word for the children of China’s nouveau riche
- 深宅大院, refers to the complicated courtyard compounds of rich families in old China, generally once a concubine enters the family, they can’t leave the place
- 尖嘴猴腮, lit. a mouth that sticks out and the cheeks of an ape
- 那小畜生, 孽障, 这厮, 竖子, all insults for boys or young men
- 装逼, lit. extreme pretense, internet slang for acting to invoke a sense of superiority, inflating your online ego, etc. The second character 逼 is often written as B (same sound); hence B-points
- 自己扛个铲子吭哧吭哧地填平, lit. personally carry a shovel and huff and puff while flattening the ground, since unresolved plotlines are known as “holes” in Chinese, this metaphor works in the raws but fails in English
- 万金油, Tiger Balm, a popular home remedy for pain used in East Asia
- 人棍, word for a victim who’s had their four limbs removed
- 紫檀, a type of tree found in southern China
- 走火入魔, to enter a qi-imbalanced state when cultivation training has gone wrong, can manifest in many different ways