Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Living to Suffer - ch12

Translator: ayszhang
Editor: Marcia

Living to Suffer chapter 12
The prequel to TDDUP
Announcement about new translation project


Ch’in Ching was painting by the window when he saw Shen Liangsheng again. In the middle of completing a portrait of children celebrating the New Year, he heard a few knocks at the door and went to answer it. Shen Liangsheng was standing outside, hands clasped behind his back and gave only a slight nod in greeting when he saw the doctor.
“You surely are becoming more and more polite, Shen-hufa, barging in without an invitation last time but knocking this time.” Smilingly, Ch’in Ching stepped sideways to let the man in. “Are you just stopping by on your way back from business again?”
Shen Liangsheng glanced out of the corner of his eye and answered nonchalantly, “You may consider my visits however you wish.”
“Oh? Could it be that Shen-hufa is here especially to see me?” Ch’in Ching obviously understood the implied meaning, but he still impishly teased him.
Paying no attention to the cheeky doctor, Shen Liangsheng instead noticed the brush and ink lying on the table and strode over to investigate. “Were you the one who painted that umbrella?”
“What umbrella?” Ch’in Ching paused in confusion until he recalled the storm when he first met Shen Liangsheng and the oil-paper umbrella he had been carrying. He said in a surprised tone, “You still remember that? But it wasn’t mine; it was my shifu’s work.”
The man nodded and did not make any more remarks, but it occurred to Ch’in Ching that since his shifu had sensed a presence from outside the yard, it was very likely that Shen Liangsheng had also detected it because his neikung was certainly more advanced than that of his shifu. Although the hufa would not ask directly due to his calculating nature, that did not mean Ch’in Ching could keep quiet about the matter.

“Speaking of my shifu…um…” Ch’in Ching scratched his head. “Last time he visited me…we were probably in the middle of… so…”
“So?” Shen Liangsheng raised his brows.
“So when might you have time to go meet him with me?” Copying the man, Ch’in Ching raised his brows, too. “I have neither father nor mother, only this one shifu. The sooner you meet him, the sooner we can tie the knot.”
“…just kidding. If I really took you to see him, his anger would probably blow through the roof.” After all this time, Ch’in Ching still had not learned from his mistakes and kept trying to best the man verbally. His constant defeats were apparent, but he just couldn’t help himself. “Plus, my shifu isn’t just anybody. You can’t see him simply because you want to.”
“No matter. You will not be able to meet my father who passed away many years ago, and you have already met Miao-t’angchu.” Shen Liangsheng’s dead-pan delivery kept the banter flowing.
“Huh?” Caught up short at the mention of Miao Jan, Ch’in Ching gaped at the hufa. “I never heard of the custom of meeting old lovers prior to the ceremony.”
“Miao­-t’angchu is my father’s sworn sister.”[1] Shen Liangsheng was finally making casual conversation about his background. “I also had no mother growing up, so I have no issue if you are willing to offer tea to her.”[2]
“Why wouldn’t it be you offering tea to my shifu?” Ch’in Ching blurted out this retort regarding the bride’s tea before focusing on Miao Jan as Shen Liangsheng’s father’s sister…so was that incest?
“I share no particular relationship with Miao-t’angchu.” Shen Liangsheng gave him a look. “Do not overthink, Ch’in-taifu.”
“Geez, she is your elder after all, but you refer to her so distantly. You must have been unpopular with the grownups when you were young.”[3] Ch’in Ching made a teasing remark but pushed for more private details. “Be honest with me, Shen Liangsheng. What is Miao-t’angchu’s age this year?”
“If my father were alive, he would be more than sixty years old. Miao-t’angchu is around two years younger than he.”
“Uh…” Ch’in Ching had heard of Miao Jan’s title of “Fairy in a Portrait” – of course, the majority in the chianghu still called her ‘Evil Witch that Just Would Not Die’ – but he would never have imagined such a ridiculous difference between her girlish complexion and her actual age. He was dumbstruck.

“What you’ve done to the place is nice.” Shen Liangsheng changed the topic when he next spoke.
“Hm?” Ch’in Ching scanned his surroundings. He had not made any changes to the furnishings, but before long he realized the man was referring to the lack of the moist winter chill of the South because the floor of his hut was lined with tik’ang[4] that was typical of the North.
“The tik’ang was meant for the plants, but I’m sensitive to the cold, so I share some of the benefit.” Walking to the desk, Ch’in Ching took a spot right beside Shen Liangsheng and picked up his brush. He chatted leisurely with the man while adding a few short strokes of joy and laughter to the faces of the children who were covering their ears from the firecrackers. “You know there are herbs that fear the cold yet only can be seeded in the dead of winter, and therefore they grow only in the most southern of places. I heard that the seas there are bluer than even the skies in midsummer, and you can see schools of fish playing in the shallows, and there are corals of all colours of the rainbow, a piece of which can be worth more than gold…”
“The painting is nice, too.” It seemed the taller man was not listening to his prattle, as he was observing the paper and giving praise – of course the praise did not seem very sincere, either.
“It’s just to kill time. It’s far too early to be drawing for the New Year.”[5] Ch’in Ching switched to the red brush[6] and was breathing life into the firecrackers and celebration into the painting when Shen Liangsheng suddenly pulled him into his embrace. Unable to lift his brush in time, he left a slanted streak of vermillion across the paper.
“…and here I was wondering why you were in such a good mood to chatter so much with me.” Far from offended, Ch’in Ching let out a chuckle. He put down the brush and turned to face the man. Teasingly he said, “If the bed was your ultimate goal, you could’ve been straightforward instead of ruining my painting, you know?”

It was as warm as a spring afternoon inside the hut, and even someone like Ch’in Ching was wearing only a single-layered robe. Without a word, Shen Liangsheng began discreetly manoeuvring around the robe and the belt while kissing and sucking on one of the doctor’s earlobes. When Ch’in Ching was totally naked, the taller man lifted him up onto the desk and positioned himself between his splayed legs letting his pants brush against the limp member. Head slightly bent, he tenderly nibbled at the doctor’s Adam’s apple and took his time exploring the body with both hands, seemingly bewitched with this silky smooth body.
“Shen-hufa, did you really come especially to see me?” A little ticklish, Ch’in Ching was asking through soft giggles. Shen Liangsheng felt the skin against his lips quivering, as if he were kissing a butterfly timidly fluttering its wings.
“That mountain of yours isn’t all that far, but it definitely isn’t close, either…” Ch’in Ching slightly deflected the head burying itself in the nook of his neck and asked smilingly, “Now that you have to run back and forth, don’t you regret having wasted all the time you spent here in rehabilitation?”
“I do. All the more reason for me to make up for it.”
Ch’in Ching had only meant to tease him and did not expect the man to admit regret. Before he could formulate a retort, he had been pushed back onto the desk. He watched the man pick up a mixed-hair[7] Huchou[8] brush, dip it in the fluid remaining on the inkstone and, using his skin as paper, begin to paint in a graceful manner some unknown art.

It might have been a river – Ch’in Ching closed his eyes and felt the prickly hairs trail down in curves like water flowing downstream, slow at times and swift at others, a combination of yin and yang. The brush tip stopped below his navel and broke contact briefly. When contact was reinitiated, the Huchou brush was replaced by a soft-hair hsiaok’ai[9] brush. The soft hairs dabbed and swirled, spreading tingles across his chest as they scraped past his nipples, always dancing away after the slightest touch and leaving behind but a trace reminiscent of eroticism. The two nubs gradually stood to quiet attention as did the member below, growing steadily harder with every stroke of the brush.
At last, after a pot of tea’s time Shen Liangsheng put down the brush. Ch’in Ching opened his eyes, which were now swimming with lust, and saw a serpentine river winding down his torso, lined on both banks with blooming reeds swaying in the breeze, and a lone wild goose flying over the water. Indeed, a wistful, desolate scene.
“In time frost descends, from above the river and beds of yellow reed, as a cry signals the nearing wild goose.”[10] Smiling at Shen Liangsheng, Ch’in Ching took the man’s left hand and lightly rubbed his palm with his thumb. “The imagery of the poem is enthralling, and it’s nice and all, but Shen­-hufa, couldn’t you draw something a little more auspicious?”
“What do you consider auspicious, Ch’in-taifu?” Shen Liangsheng bent down to question the doctor. Seeing the naked man beneath him, eyes unable to contain the sensual arousal and skin slightly flushed pink, he came upon an idea. He picked up a kuei[11] brush, dipped it lightly in vermillion and dotted it once near the doctor’s eye. Together with the false tear streak, the rouge mark seemed all the more alluring.
“What do you think, Shen-hufa?” Ch’in Ching raised his head for a kiss that was not deep. Their lips merely touched and slowly rubbed against one another. He quietly continued, “Serves me right for falling victim to the peach flower.”[12]

The doctor mentioned the peach flower, so the hufa actually painted it. Moreover, he drew it on a rather lewd, southerly spot.
With the red kuei brush in his right hand and Ch’in Ching’s fully hardened member in his left, Shen Liangsheng began painting from the base up, carefully tracing first the branches and leaves, then illustrating the sepal to support the swollen head. His technique was immaculate and completely steady, but the fine hairs were torturous and made Ch’in Ching moan aloud. By the time Shen Liangsheng had painted all the petals of the flower on the crown, Ch’in Ching’s voice was on the verge of cracking.
Shen Liangsheng had been pressing down on the tiny slit on top while he was painting, and when he finished and lifted the confining digit, out gushed the transparent love juices that had been pent up. The last drops even contained a trace of milky white. The doctor’s ecstatic euphoria had evidently been pushing the boundaries of premature release.
The fresh pigments of the petals were clouded by the sticky fluids. With a loose grip on his member, Shen Liangsheng commented near the doctor’s ear. “When one has much strife, much desire, ‘tis called the flooded peach flower.[13] Ch’in Ching, you really took it literally.”
Ch’in Ching peeped at his groin. A vermillion peach flower, with its branches and leaves, graced a proudly erect penis. In the first instance it was too provocative for him to continue observing, but the next moment he found his gaze glued to the sight as though afraid to miss even a split second. Shen Liangsheng was slowly lowering himself, his head nearing Ch’in Ching’s shaft, but he did not take it into his mouth. Instead, he lapped at the head repeatedly teasing the slit on top.

The tik’ang was so warm that Ch’in Ching had left a window open halfway for circulation, encasing the desk area in brilliant winter sunlight. In the rays hovered motes of dust from the earthly world like a light snowfall that would neither fall to the ground nor melt away into nothingness.
Ch’in Ching panted as he watched the lewd, explicit sight before his eyes, observing every lick. Every time the tongue gently touched his slick head, the pleasure he received amplified tenfold. He couldn’t help thrusting his hips forward and begging softly, “Take it in deeper… I’m about to come…”
Unexpectedly, Shen Liangsheng opened wide and took him into his mouth, staining his unusually pale lips with bright vermillion. Against that cold, sculpted face of his, the blood appeared to be the remains of an Asura’s bloody feast, horrifying yet bewitching.
Moaning and gasping, Ch’in Ching found it impossible to last much longer under the new wave of stimulation. Shen Liangsheng took him in and sucked him only a few times before the length in his mouth jerked and shot out globs of salty semen that tasted to him like blood.
Rather than swallowing it, Shen Liangsheng propped the doctor’s hips up, placed his lips against the entrance and pushed the fluid out of his mouth. He then spread the sticky substance with one hand and with the other gently wiped off the remaining dribble hanging on the soft member. “‘Blowing flowers, picking pistils, spring has come again.’[14] Is this auspicious enough for you, Ch’in-taifu?”
Ch’in Ching did not catch his question, as he was still recovering from his climax. All he could feel was a slight stickiness around his entrance, but then the next moment he felt something enter. It was not a finger – something harder and longer – and after snapping back to his senses, he realized it must be the shaft of a brush.
What Shen Liangsheng was using was chungk’ai[15] which was thin enough to slide in smoothly with the lubricant. For a while the hufa pumped it back and forth while twisting before taking it out completely. With two digits he stretched the opening and flipped the brush over to tickle the sensitive area with the hairs, but very soon he directed it straight into the entrance.
“Let’s make this clear first…” A nervous Ch’in Ching clutched the man’s sleeve. “If you’re going to do this, you’d better not use any used ones. The term ‘a gut full of ink’[16] isn’t to be taken literally.”
“Ch’in Ching,” Shen Liangsheng pulled the brush stand over and swiped a finger across the dangling, unused brushes. “You can choose for yourself.”
The doctor turned to see on the stand only two wolf-hair tak’ai[17] and two goat-beard t’itou.[18] He tried to make a compromise, frowning. “Could I not choose?”
“Don’t be silly.”
It was a warm utterance of comfort, but said at the present moment it only left Ch’in Ching glum and disgruntled. He opted to shut his eyes to the despairing situation as he felt himself being spread open. As the brush hairs swept against his entrance, poking and tickling, a preposterous notion occurred to him. He wondered how the bundle of soft hair would feel brushing and scratching his insides.
“You’re already wet here.” Shen Liangsheng firmly pushed the brush in as he asked, “Does it feel that good?”
Ch’in Ching wanted to retort that, considering its original function, it was natural to react to being penetrated there, but alas Shen Liangsheng did not stop to give him any leeway, rather adding another tak’ai. The shafts together were not very thick, but the brush tips were quite a bit thicker than the former. The tips inside him pointed at one spot and made him feel stretched, so he decided it was wiser not to speak since he was currently the meat on the cutting board and Shen Liangsheng the butcher.

By the time the taller man added another brush, Ch’in Ching was wet with sweat. He gathered enough strength and asked for mercy, “I really can’t… Stop it now…”
That said, the hufa actually did stop tormenting him. After removing his own belt, he pushed his pants down to his knees and released his long-erect member, rubbing it against the doctor’s thighs.
Afraid that he would just stick it in now, Ch’in Ching quickly closed his legs and shifted over to avoid that monstrous thing. But as soon as he did so, he was forced back to his previous position with that burning length now viciously thrusting against the tender skin on the inside of his legs.
The brushes inside moved along with the vigorous movements by the man. The bundles of hair scraped his narrow insides, arousing an itch that caused the ring of muscle to voluntarily contract in hopes of relieving it. But all it achieved was to push one of the brushes farther in, poking at that forbidden, sensitive nub and sending a violent shudder through the doctor. As well, the limp member in front began reacting.
Seeing the response, Shen Liangsheng purposely nudged the brush shafts with every thrust arousing the man beneath him. Gradually the pleasure and moisture built up, but the craving could not be satisfied. Before long, Ch’in Ching reached out with his own hand and pumped the brushes into himself.
“Can’t wait any longer?” Shen Liangsheng grabbed the doctor’s hand, asking in his ear.
“No,” Ch’in Ching murmured in a rare burst of honesty and then added, “Quick…get inside me.”

With Ch’in Ching so frank, Shen Liangsheng didn’t see the point in withholding any longer. Sliding out the brushes, he penetrated the doctor with force and speed, knocking the words in his mouth into senseless moans.
Initially, Ch’in Ching had his arms around the taller man’s back, but later as the pounding continued, his strength left him. His arms slid down along the robe, falling to the man’s waist, and sneaked underneath the fabric to circle around.
Now, the waist was a crucial source of power in the affair of love. Finding the doctor’s embrace a hindrance, he pushed the arms farther down. Even through the wild movements Ch’in Ching could feel the two lumps of bare roundness, the precise targets of his longtime desires. He thought to himself that it would be nice even if all he could get was a touch, and his naughty hands began to grope and fondle the two taut globes. As he fantasized about how wonderful it would be to have the man under him for once, his member became even harder.
“Ch’in Ching.” Knowing full well what the doctor was considering, he warned, “Don’t think about what you shouldn’t think about.”
“But I– Ah!”
Just as he was about to reply, the manhood buried inside him pushed in at a different angle and proceeded to attack that one sensitive nub. The overwhelming stimulation erased all vocabulary from Ch’in Ching’s mind. His fingers seemed to have a mind of their own as they clutched the taller man’s hips and pressed them towards him in rhythm with the thrusts as though urging the man to pound harder and faster.
“Ah…Shen…Shen…Liangsheng…” After a hundred or so thrusts, Ch’in Ching could no longer stand it. He came, screaming the man’s name, without any stimulation on his member. Shen Liangsheng was also nearing his limit. When the doctor’s insides began to tighten with violent spasms around his manhood sending unbelievable pleasure to the head, he felt his abdomen tighten as well and pushed himself in to the hilt, reaching his climax at nearly the same time.

The two men caught their breaths for a while before Shen Liangsheng slowly pulled out his limp member. Seeing both of them covered with sweat and ink, he too stripped naked before taking Ch’in Ching in his arms, flitting to the medicinal spring, and soaking in the water together.
“Lechery in broad daylight,” Ch’in Ching joked with Shen Liangsheng after recovering, copying the hufa’s usual serious tone, “is an offence against decency.” But even as he made this utterance, his expression stiffened.
“What’s the matter?”
Shen Liangsheng thought he was not feeling well, but a few moments later, Ch’in Ching muttered, “…leaking out.”

Now, Shen Liangsheng had not come during their first time, and he had cleansed the doctor after their second time, so this was the first time Ch’in Ching was aware of somebody else’s body fluid flowing out of him. He hadn’t felt much while being pounded in the midst of a lustful spell, but the incontinent sensation left him feeling rather awkward.
Shen Liangsheng had shot his load extremely deeply, and even after soaking so long in the water he could feel little blobs dribbling out of him.
“Still there?”
The taller man had Ch’in Ching in his lap, chest to chest, and he noticed the discomfort still present on the doctor’s face. He circled a hand around and poked a digit in the opening to clean the remains.
“Not anymore… Hey…you…hmm…” Shen Liangsheng’s finger would not leave even after the job was complete, and his manhood showed some signs of revival. Ch’in Ching speculated whether the man was intent on another round and found some solace in knowing he would then at least know what it was like to die from overindulgence and exhausting his yang essence.
“We won’t if you don’t want to.”
Although it was not outwardly evident, Ch’in Ching could sense the hufa was currently in a good mood. Not only was the man willing to restrain himself, he was smoothing out the doctor’s wet hair.
“Oh, right. I actually had something I wanted to ask…” Ch’in Ching was truly serious this time when he opened his mouth. “I might live in the middle of nowhere, but I do catch wind of rumours about incidents in the chianghu.”
“Act not so tentatively. Speak frankly.” The taller man must have truly been in a good mood, for his stern words were uttered in a warm tone.
“If it really was you who did the deed,” Ch’in Ching gazed at the man. “I want to know the reason why the Hsing Sect is committing such slaughter.”
“What has it to do with you?” Shen Liangsheng’s voice lost its warmth, and although his expression remained the same, the doctor knew very well that his question had destroyed the man’s good mood.
“It should have nothing to do with me, but I happen to share some history with Master Shan of Broken Zither Hills.” With a wry smile, Ch’in Ching retold the story behind the founding of the Hills, the master’s disappearance from the chianghu, and his visit with his shifu to find a treatment. After finishing, he shook his head. “I remember Shifu told me once that Shan Hai-hsin wanted to take his own life to pay for his sins but chose to live, not because he was afraid and clung to life, but because he wanted to suffer with the sin and guilt. He established the Hills and named it Broken Zither to build himself a prison and live every day in penance.”
He took a quick pause before finishing.
“During the time I stayed there, I listened in on one of my shifu’s conversations with him. Master Shan said that his sins were unforgivable even if he spent this lifetime repenting and that death would be release. Thus he wanted to live and suffer for his wrongdoings.”
“Are you blaming me for killing him?”
“I just think that this kind of ending is…” But not even Ch’in Ching could say what that kind of ending was.
“The affairs of our sect have naught to do with you. Not listening and not asking are your wisest options lest you come to harm.”
“Then pretend I didn’t say anything.”

“But let’s say a day comes…” After both men were silent for some time, Ch’in Ching started another line of questioning with a sigh. “…When you and I must face each other over life or death. Surely the one to die would be me while the one to live would be you, right?”
“And why would such a day come?”
“The world is full of the unknown, and the variables are constantly changing.”
“There is no need to ponder the unknown.”
“Well, what would you do if I died?”
“Why, I’d either find a husband or find a wife.”
Ch’in Ching burst out in giggles. “How hard-hearted you must be to remember that jest after all this time.”

“Well, what I really want to ask is…” Taking another pause, Ch’in Ching flashed a smile and pressed his forehead against that of Shen Liangsheng. He looked into his eyes with earnest tenderness. “Since I love you so, I wonder if you also love me, too, even just a little.”
“If I died, would you ever think of me, even for just one moment in a year?”
“Wouldn’t even lie for me, huh…” Ch’in Ching backed away, chuckling wryly. Then he whispered, “You truly are a hard-hearted man, Shen Liangsheng.”

[1] It is commonplace for two xia to swear loyalty to each other.
[2] It is customary for the bride to kneel before the groom’s parents and offer tea to them.
[3] It is generally favorable to refer to grownups by their relative familial status to the child himself.
[4] Radiant heating, “the dragon’s breath,” originated in northern China around the 10th century B.C.E.  Home surfaces would be covered with clay tiles and the cavity beneath connected by pipes to the cooking stove.  Heat from the fire would circulate, be absorbed by the clay tiles, and radiate out into the room.  The amount of surface treated this way ranged from just the sleeping platform (kang), to the entire floor, to the floor and walls for those who could afford it.
[5] It was most common for ancient artists to make art that corresponded to the season since it added to the aesthetics.
[6] The most common ink colour is black and the second most is red. One often finds at a traditional writing desk a specific brush for red ink. In this case, it is likely Ch’in Ching is painting with only these two colours, which is not unusual.
[7] The three most common types of hairs that brushes are made with are “wolf” hair, goat hair and mixed hair.
[8] Huchou is one of four places renowned for quality brushes and is allegedly the birthplace of the ink brush itself (Qin Dynasty, 3rd century BC).
[9] Xiaokai (hsiaok’ai) is perhaps the script with the strictest requirements for the brush used, and has come to refer to brushes capable of producing good xiaokai calligraphy. ‘Hsiao’ means small while ‘k’ai’ refers to the regular script.
[10] The last line in the poem, guo qin lou (過秦樓) by Chen Yun Ping (陳允平; approx. 1220 – 1295).
[11] One of the smallest of brushes.
[12] The flooded peach flower (泛水桃花) refers to several patzu (bazi) that are associated with romantic strife and excessive lust.
[13] The peach flower is closely associated with the Xianchi (salt pool) star where, according to myth, the sun bathes in at the end of each day. This star in Chinese astrology is directly related to the abundance of love and loss of wealth in one’s life. In casual use, the peach flower has become synonymous with romance and affairs. Also, the dot drawn by Shen Liangsheng is in a location that Chinese face mole readers would associate with susceptibility to sex.
[14] The first half of the line comes from a reminiscent poem, yu mei ren (虞美人) by Yan Ji Dao (晏幾道).
[15] ‘Chung’ means medium and ‘k’ai’ refers to the regular script. Brushes that could produce a medium-sized k’ai script were called chungk’ai.
[16] The expression is used to describe someone who harbours literary or poetic genius within themselves.
[17] ‘Ta’ means large and ‘k’ai’ refers to the regular script. Brushes that could produce a large-sized k’ai script were called tak’ai.
[18] This is one of the biggest brushes commonly used in calligraphy.

"Tying the knot" is a literal step in the traditional marriage ceremony

Pictures of various brushes, some mentioned in the chapter

A painting that contains the same elements as the one SLS draws on CC

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
ayszhang: So I will announce (again I think) that I will be working in Quebec in a small town called Mascouche for the next school year. At the same time I will be taking distance courses. I hope I will get back into habit of translating again once my work schedule is figured out. To be honest, I haven't been translating at all since my 5-week course at Chicoutimi earlier in May, which is sort of breaking my promise of one more new story for you....
Anyways, Ying and I will be working on this new project, but we both are moving - she to Scotland and I to Quebec - therefore we need time to adjust before getting back into the habit of translating.

My Patreon is linked here if you would like to donate a buck or two monthly. Now that I am out of university, I need to work and support myself. Any small amount is a great help and alleviates financial pressure off my back :) Thank you to the Patreons who have contributed.


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