1 Lin Xue: The Perfect Ripeness

On the evening of December 25th, 2023, at 9 o'clock, the enchanting atmosphere of Velvet Shadows in Pudong, Shanghai, China, came alive.

Nestled within the modern cityscape, this hidden two-story establishment exuded a traditional charm like no other.

Upstairs, a remarkable scene unfolded within the walls of a room. A twelve-year-old boy, measuring about 5 feet 5 inches in height, laid naked in the warm embrace of a woman in her late twenties. Their bodies bore traces of laborious activity, a testament to the intensity of their shared experience.

Wang Xiao, with his bare skin against the woman's thigh and bosom, tilted his head and gazed out of the window

"It's already snowing..."

As he exhaled a deep sigh, his breath mingled with the snow-filled air outside.

The night, gracefully illuminated by the subtle glow of streetlights, had embraced a mesmerizing transformation.

Delicate flakes of snow began to dance, descending on the pristine landscape with a breathtaking allure, adding an ethereal charm to the captivating city of Shanghai.

Yet, amidst this tableau, Wang Xiao stood out with his most distinguishing feature — his eyes, a striking shade of red, shimmered like fiery embers.

This unique trait, a result of a rare genetic mutation, often earned him the infamous name 'Demon' within the confines of Green Oasis Academy - a school that resembled more of a prison than a nurturing environment.

It sought to suppress the budding creativity of its young inhabitants, intent on forcefully moulding them into society's predetermined mold in the years to come.

Resting on the woman's lap, Wang Xiao found solace in the embrace of Lin Xue's comforting presence.

With the finesse of a seasoned chef, she skillfully peeled away the vibrant skin of a succulent mango, its fragrance wafting through the air, capturing his attention.

The rhythmic strokes of her knife transformed the fruit into bite-sized pieces, each one a mosaic of vibrant colors.

There was an elegance to her every movement as she delicately plucked a morsel, delicately skewered it with a toothpick, and extended her slender finger towards Wang Xiao's awaiting mouth.

Enthralled by the intoxicating winter spectacle just beyond the frost-kissed window, Wang Xiao, oblivious to the world around him, accepted the morsel without diverting his gaze.

The pristine snowflakes danced in the ethereal glow, captivating his imagination.

Amused by his dazed reverie, Lin Xue's eyes twinkled with a mixture of curiosity and intrigue, and a glimmer of mischief danced in her gaze. "Do you like snow? You have been staring outside for a long time... What are you really thinking, little boy?" she inquired, her voice laced with a playful melody.

To Lin Xue, Wang Xiao became a rare and endearing creature, constantly surprising her with the depths of his musings that surpassed his tender age.

He possessed a wisdom that surpassed his years, an enigma she couldn't help but be drawn to.

Lin Xue's enchanting presence commanded attention and admiration.

Her silhouette boasted the timeless allure of an hourglass, her curves exquisitely accentuated. Raven strands of hair cascaded in a seamless display of silk along her shoulders, akin to a majestic waterfall in perpetual motion. Her bosom, proud and unyielding, commanded admiration rather than surrender. Intriguing eyes, brimming with mystery and allure, mesmerized anyone who dared meet her gaze.

The pulsating warmth of her captivating lips held the promise of secrets whispered in smokey nights.

Velvet Shadows, the opulent brothel she presided over, bowed to her magnetic charm, transforming into her kingdom of seduction and enchantment.

One day, out of nowhere, a vibrant young boy burst into the establishment, causing a sudden uproar. His presence was like a lightning bolt in a calm sky, igniting chaos in its wake.

It's worth mentioning that in the modern world, similar places exist, but usually they mind their own business without disturbing the civilians or attracting the attention of the authorities.

A few months prior, this audacious character named Wang Xiao approached the counter, demanding the company of a woman. His bizarre request caught everyone off guard, prompting mockery and bursts of laughter.

But then, as if possessed by a secret power, Wang Xiao began to reach into his pockets, revealing bundles of hundred yuan bills, leaving the receptionist dumbfounded and amazed.

In the end, it was money that prevailed. After all, there were no stringent laws against a minor boy's bizarre demands. If it were a girl making such an audacious request, no one would dare to entertain it.

However, at that particular moment, all the women were preoccupied with other matters. With a fleeting moment of hesitation, the receptionist decided to confide in Lin Xue, the proprietor.

Intrigued by the unfolding spectacle, Lin Xue decided to play the role of a gracious hostess and personally accompanied Wang Xiao to her private quarters. Little did she know, what awaited her there was a revelation.

The age of the boy, once disclosed, left Lin Xue awestruck. Nevertheless, from that day forward, he would often grace the establishment with his presence whenever he felt the urge, carelessly splurging money without a second thought.

When Lin Xue finally mustered the courage to inquire about the source of his seemingly endless wealth, Wang Xiao nonchalantly admitted to stealing it, showing no concern for her reaction or the consequences his actions might bring.

His actions never failed to surprise Lin Xue, as though he were some kind of otherworldly being, distinct from them and not entirely human like them.

His eyes, blood red and piercing, only served to further confirm her suspicions.

When questioned, Wang Xiao hummed thoughtfully, his gaze shifting from the windows to her face. He slightly lifted his head, a flicker of intrigue in his eyes. "You know... In this world, every species competes for survival."

"The limited availability of resources has not only led to competition among humans, but among each and every species. Energy cannot be created nor destroyed, so how do you believe we humans function?"

Lin Xue's brows twitched, an impatient edge to her voice. "Little boy, if I possessed such knowledge of science, I wouldn't be toiling away in this place."

A smile tugged at Wang Xiao's lips, a hint of mischief in his eyes. "Indeed, after all, you are just a whore working here..." Lin Xue's frown deepened, but she found herself unable to retort.

Wang Xiao continued, his words mingling with a self-assured air. "We humans survive by consuming. We exchange one thing for another, fueling ourselves through this perpetual exchange. Most times, it entails taking from other species in existence. Scientists believe that humans are the sole species capable of evolution, but every creature has adapted in its own way to ensure survival."

"Take trees, for example—they produce an abundance of fruit, hoping that a few will blossom into new trees. Yet humans, in comparison, give birth to only a few babies at a time, a mere fraction. We humans feed on other forms of life to sustain our own; we inhale oxygen, nourish ourselves with matter and atoms that teem with life. In essence, each small atom around us is alive, even the smallest of the particles.

"And we, as a species, consume them or more precisely exchange them for energy to persist. We have no other choice; creation of new matter is already out of the question, reserved for the realm of deities, and we are left only to utilize what already exists."

"In this grand tapestry of survival, only the powerful prevail."

In a sudden motion, Wang Xiao extended his hand, plucking a piece of mango from the plate and devouring it before her eyes. "The weak, like this small fruit, are consumed by us while they search for ways to evolve and endure. Why, then, do you suppose someone would create a world such as this? A world where survival hinges on the merciless consumption of others. Is it merely a game? If it is, then it is a game already rigged. Life must have wearied God above, prompting the creation of this game-like existence..."

Lin Xue found herself tuning out halfway, her mind drifting elsewhere.

She offered a sound of acknowledgement and sought to redirect the conversation. "Don't you want to go home today?"

Wang Xiao blinked his eyes, his gaze filled with seriousness. "Today is Christmas, and those people must be wasting their time celebrating for useless reasons. I have no desire to partake in such festivities. Why should we celebrate certain days as if they're better than others? True happiness should be found in the freedom to choose when to be happy. No one should dictate that for us."

"Okay, that's enough," Lin Xue interrupted with a note of resentment in her voice. "Don't tell me you even have a philosophy about eating the same mango every single time. And by the way, this particular mango is not only expensive but also incredibly rare to find!"

It was true. Wang Xiao was no ordinary mango connoisseur.

He didn't settle for eating ordinary, ripe mangoes. Instead, he had a peculiar taste for a specific type of mango—one that was neither fully ripe nor completely unripe but somewhere in between.

Wang Xiao couldn't help but smile faintly, fully aware of what was running through Lin Xue's mind.

Suddenly, he turned to her, a mischievous glint in his eyes. "Do you know that there exists an uncanny resemblance between women and mangoes?" he asked, catching her completely off guard.

Lin Xue was momentarily stunned, but eventually, a charming laughter escaped her lips. "Eehehe, I must confess I don't know. So, can Master Wang enlighten me?"

With a nod, Wang Xiao proceeded to explain, "Women and mangoes share something in common - they both have a specific window of time when they are best savored. If a mango is too old, it spoils the taste. And if it's too young, it simply can't be enjoyed. I always seek that sweet spot, that perfect ripeness. Remember, proprietress, once you become old, I would discard you — just like I toss overly ripe mangoes into the Dustbin."

"Y-You!" Lin Xue's eyes widened in astonishment, her shock evident on her face.

How could such a fragile-looking child speak such words with such gravity and determination?

Noticing her reaction, Wang Xiao couldn't help but feel a sense of satisfaction.

He had an uncanny ability to spot things others often overlooked.

He couldn't say for sure if he had already identified her true identity, but it seemed from her reaction that he was spot on.

However, Lin Xue wasn't bothered; she had a faint suspicion that he had been aware of her identity for a long time.

Gritting her teeth in seething anger, she abruptly rose to her feet and snatched up her brownish red robe.

"Your time is already over," she declared, her voice laced with determination as she prepared to escape the presence of this insolent child.

However, a sinister smirk suddenly crept across Wang Xiao's face, and he forcefully tugged at her hand, causing Lin Xue to stumble backward and collapse onto the bed.

With a wicked gleam in his eyes, he hovered over her, his grin widening.

"Slut, do you truly believe I lack money?" he sneered, callously discarding her robe and swiftly positioning her on all fours.

Although Lin Xue possessed the strength to resist, she chose not to, knowing all too well that this was not the first depraved encounter she had endured.

Adjacent to them, Wang Xiao extended his hand to retrieve his pants, extracting a thick wad of banknotes, which he then carelessly tossed it in front of her face.

Her face obscured by a curtain of hair, impeding her vision, Lin Xue's exposed body glimmered enticingly in the pale moonlight. The reflection of her voluptuous, enticing derriere captivated Wang Xiao's gaze, enchanting him.

Lin Xue was momentarily stunned, her mind reeling from the onslaught of this debased act. However, deep down, she could not deny the forbidden allure that stirred within her.

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