The ticking of a clock echoes in a dim lighted room as a human figure lay on a worn leather sofa. Depression was setting in as Long Yu contemplated his decision of moving to Nanjing city. As night approaches, his thoughts slowly drifted back to the past when he lived at his hometown.
Long Yu grew up in an orphanage in a small town near the countryside. The orphans who reached the age of 14 would have to find some sort of work in the town to help earn money for the orphanage. This was a way for them to repay the orphanage for its care as well as to keep the orphanage itself running.
Long Yu himself worked in a butcher shop for 4 straight years until he was 18. The work itself was hard and the hours were long. However, the pay was more rewarding compared to the others. This was because there were not many children who could deal with the sight and smell of animal blood everyday.
On another note, the more fortunate kids in the orphanage would be the ones who get adopted by families. Getting adopted usually meant that the child would have a better life and future, including love and proper education.
Long Yu had never truly felt like he belonged in the orphanage. It was because he was different from the other orphans. He had received a limp in his left leg due to an accident when he was just 4 years old. It was the very accident which took both his parents away from him and turned his life upside down.
After the accident, Long Yu was initially supposed to be taken care of by relatives from his mother's side. However, they were poor and could not afford to do so. At least that was what they claimed.
As Long Yu grew older, he realised that the reason he was sent to the orphanage was probably because his relatives were unwilling to keep a liability around. Not to mention that there was no inheritance for him to receive from his dead parents. What inheritance could he possibly receive when his family barely scraped through each day.
The only thing that mattered to him most in the orphanage was a little girl named Luo Xi. Long Yu was 15 at the time when he first saw Luo Xi being carried to the orphanage by a fat middle aged man. The man was dressed like a slob and even stunk of alcohol.
From what Long Yu overheard from the staff of the orphanage, it was apparent that the 7 years old little girl was in the same situation as him. Her parents had passed away and her useless uncle of a gambler could not be bothered to take care of her. Thus, she was cruelly abandoned at the doorstep of the orphanage.
To Long Yu, Luo Xi was different from the rest of orphans. He did not detect any hint of pity or disdain in her eyes when she saw his leg, which was limp and full of scars. Instead, what he felt from her was curiosity and friendliness. She had the smile of an angel, which complimented her flawless baby face. It was obvious that she would become a beauty in the future.
Time passed by as Luo Xi could always be seen following Long Yu around. Regardless whether it was at work or bedtime, that little lass would always stick to him like glue. He even remembers the look of joy on her slightly chubby face when he gave her pocket money for the very first time.
Every month, Luo Xi would use a small portion of the money she received to buy some snacks and saved up the rest in a makeshift coin-box. When Long Yu found out what she had been accumulating her monthly pocket money for, his heart felt warmth for the first time in many years.
Over the years, all the money she received from him was saved up in order to one day leave the orphanage and buy a house in one of the big cities. Her biggest wish was to forever stay together with this big brother of hers. After learning about her cute and naive wish, Long Yu worked even harder so that he could one day fulfill her wish. Unfortunately, that day never came.
Not long after Luo Xi turned 11, she fell extremely sick. It was later found out that she had leukemia, which was inherited from her family. She was quickly admitted to the hospital for treatment. Due to the lack of money as well as the poor medical facilities in the area, Luo Xi's health continued to deteriorate.
Long Yu had wanted to send her to the hospitals in one of the big cities. However, her condition combined with the long journey would do more harm to her health than good. In the end, he could only continue to have the hospital provide supportive care in order to increase her comfort.
Despite the angelic smile plastered on her face, Long Yu could tell that she was in constant pain. His heart was constantly smashed into smithereens as he watched Luo Xi getting weaker by the day.
He would have given anything, even his life, in order for her to be cured. Unfortunately, it was destined that she would be taken away from him, just like his parents.
From that day on, Long Yu was never the same. His heart became cold and not a hint of smile could be seen on his face anymore. He continued to go to work, but it was only so that he could at least fulfill Luo Xi's wish. Once he earned enough money, he finally moved to Nanjing city and found a place to stay.
What he brought with him were his clothes, his favourite knife and Luo Xi's ashes, which was safely sealed in the most expensive and beautiful cremation urn he could find. Lastly, he also wore a jade pendant which he found in her coin box along with all the money she had been saving up.
After all that effort spent on travelling and finding a place to stay in Nanjing city, Long Yu felt that it was all for naught. A month had passed and he had yet to find a job, which brought him to his current dilemma. At this rate, his savings would not allow him to live in the city for long and he would have to move back to his hometown.
As Long Yu continued to ponder for solutions on the leather sofa, he could see a light streaking across the dark sky. It was a wishing star. He quickly held the pendant on his neck tightly as he wished for his current dilemma to be solved. However at that moment, his thoughts suddenly changed as he chanted his true wish instead.
'I wish to be able to exchange for anything, even if I have to pay the highest of price.'
If he could have done so, Luo Xi would not have had to die. He would have willingly given half of his lifespan or even his life just for her to be cured. As Long Yu watched the wishing star disappear from his sight, he could not help but let out a hollow laugh. What was he even thinking, getting caught up in a silly myth.
Just as he retrieved his gaze from the pitch black sky, he suddenly felt a burning sensation on his right hand. It was the jade pendant that he was holding on to. Long Yu could feel an intense heat searing through his body as the light given off by the pendant blinded his sight.
The excruciating pain felt so surreal that he thought he was being burned alive. He could not scream even if he wanted to as he could feel his throat burning as well. The event lasted for a whole ten minutes before he was released from the torture.
As Long Yu regained his sight, he could feel the heat slowly receding from his body. His entire shirt was soaked in sweat thanks to the painful ordeal that he had to endure. He looked down at his empty hand where the pendant was supposed to be. Seeing it disappear all of a sudden, he started to panic. He did not even care about the traumatic experience that he just went through.
The jade pendant was the only thing that Luo Xi left him and he could not afford to lose it. Just when he was about to flip his entire room over, he heard a cold electronic female voice in his head.
'Item(999 years old jade pendant) accepted. Host Long Yu's wish shall be granted. Rolling for the appropriate system based on host's wish.'
Long Yu could then hear a sound similar to a slot machine ringing in his head before it came to an abrupt stop.
'Congratulations to host for receiving the Special-grade Equivalent Exchange System.'