"If only I could become a martial artist..."

The rain pitter-pattered outside. Under the eaves of a building at the corner of the street, Lu Heng could be seen standing alone, hiding from the cold winter wind.

Ring, Ring, Ring!

Suddenly, a series of ringing sounds could be heard not far away, which drowned out the sound of the passing footsteps.

"School's over. She should be here soon, right?"

Lu Heng poked his head out and looked across at the other side of the street. As expected, a beautiful figure carrying an umbrella was walking over in his direction.

The young girl soon arrived in front of Lu Heng's.


Her delicate little hand handed a small paper bag made of oil paper to Lu Heng.

"Thank you!"

Lu Heng stretched out his slightly rough hand and carefully took the small paper bag from her. He then tried to say in a solemn tone, "I will definitely return these food stamps to you in the future."

"Instead of spending your time talking about such things, you should think about how to protect her instead."

The girl's reply was very cold, but there was a hint of helplessness in her tone.

After saying that, she turned around and left.

On the other side of the street, there was another girl wearing the same school uniform waiting for her.

"Shiyao, why are you giving Lu Heng food stamps again? He really has no shame accepting those from you."

As the girl spoke, she looked over Liu Shiyao's shoulders at Lu Heng and frowned slightly. "I recall that he used to be quite strong in school."

"No matter how strong a person is, they still have to bow to reality, especially in this current world."

Liu Shiyao sighed softly and then stared into the distance.

"Let's go. Let's hurry to the car."


The two of them quickened their pace and turned the corner while braving the cold winter wind. They sooned arrived next to a main road.

There was a luxury car parked at the side of the road, waiting quietly. It looked out of place on this deserted street, which was only filled with large public transportation vehicles.

The driver saw the two of them walking over and hurriedly got out of the car to open the door for them. After the two of them were seated in the back of the car, he nimbly returned to the driver's seat and started the car engine.

"Shiyao, the college entrance exam is next year. Are you going to aim for the University of Science and Technology or the University of Martial Arts?"

"The University of Science and Technology. I prefer to study scientific theories and explore the mysteries of the unknown."

"Yes, it would be great if you ace the exam. In the future, you can become a scientist and peacefully conduct your scientific research inside the city. You can also enjoy the privileges provided by the government."

The other girl agreed with Liu Shiyao's words. "Besides, although uncle is a grandmaster, the training to become a martial artist is not easy."

"Yes, for me, the path of a martial artist is only one of the choices available to me. However, to others, it's the only chance at survival. Unfortunately, I can't help them."

"Shiyao, why are you being so sentimental? There are monsters wreaking havoc in the wilderness outside the city, and the passage between worlds needs to be guarded. How could there be any extra food to feed the weak and disabled. People die every day on the farms in the outer city. Every single grain of rice we have cost us human lives."

"I know, I was just lamenting their fate."

"Sigh, you're too kind." The other girl shook her head helplessly.

Liu Shiyao did not answer her. The atmosphere inside the car fell silent and, for some time, only the sound of falling rain and spinning tires could be heard.

Lu Heng wrapped himself tightly in his old cotton-padded jacket and ran quickly along the alley.

In the distance, tall buildings with mottled and dilapidated exteriors stood across the road. They were densely packed, and were almost right next to each other.

His home was in one of these buildings.

"Let's exchange these for food first."

Lu Heng tightened his grip on the small bag of food stamps in his hand, and a rare smile appeared on his face.

These food stamps, together with the ones he earned, would be enough for the two of them to survive the winter.

In the distance, he could see a long line outside the neighborhood's grain station, which moved forward at a snail's pace.

This neighborhood occupied only 70,000 to 80,000 square meters, but there were nearly 200,000 people living inside it, so this was a common sight at the neighborhood's sole grain station every day.

Lu Heng waited in line for a full three hours before receiving 70 catties of synthetic food blocks, one catty of different kinds of pickled vegetables, and some jerky.

For the ordinary people of this city, simply having food to eat was already a blessing.

For Lu Heng and his sister, this food would be enough for them to eat their fill in the following days.

In this world, being able to eat one's fill was something to be grateful and happy for.

Building 3, 39th floor, Unit C.

Lu Heng huffed and puffed as he walked up the stairs. He had paused to rest many times along the way. It was not easy for him to carry the food up to this floor, and he was so tired that his entire body was soaked in sweat.

In this era, resources and land were extremely scarce. There was no space for an elevator inside the buildings where civilians lived. Fortunately, everyone's physiques were much better than they had been in the old era. It was not a big problem for them to take the stairs.

"Xiaoxiao, I'm back."

Lu Heng opened the door and greeted a nine-year-old girl sitting on an armchair.

This was his biological sister. She had big eyes and fair skin. Unfortunately, her lower body was paralyzed. She could only sit on the chair every day, unable to take care of herself.

Lu Heng turned around and placed the sack on his shoulder down inside the corridor. He then dragged it backward into their narrow and cramped room.

Their room was only about thirty square meters in size. Every inch of space had been utilized to the extreme. It was difficult to even turn around while carrying such a large sack of food.

However, to the siblings, this room felt very empty because their parents were killed by monsters on a farm in the outer city. Their eldest brother had died during his military service.

Their surroundings were no longer as lively and warm as before.

"Second brother, here, take this!"

Lu Heng had just finished unpacking when Lu Xiaoxiao stretched out her hand to hand him a towel.

"Xiaoxiao, sit down and don't move around. I'll start cooking first."

Wiping his sweat, Lu Heng straightened Xiaoxiao's body and turned around to cook.

In fact, all he was doing was cooking synthetic food.

In this era, there were very few people who could afford to eat rice noodles, fruits, vegetables, and fresh meat. Ordinary people could forget about ever tasting such luxuries.

The farms in the outer city were not large, and thus had limited output. The supply was only sufficient to feed the city's martial artists as well as a small handful of people.

The synthetic food cubes that ordinary people consumed were all made from the meat of some edible monsters as well as some wild plants in the wilderness. The taste was not too bad, but it was nothing to shout about either.

Of course, for people who often went hungry, these pieces of synthetic food would be considered a delicacy.

Soon, the room was filled with the faint fragrance of cooked food. Lu Heng drew a greedy breath and asked with a smile, "Xiaoxiao, does it smell good?"

"Yes, it smells good!"


Their bellies started making gurgling sounds.

"Let's eat!"

Lu Heng set up a folding table in high spirits and placed it in front of Lu Xiaoxiao. He then turned around and stirred the synthetic food pieces in the pot into a paste.

It was only at this time that he could forget all his worries and enjoy life happily.

Two bowls of paste and a small plate of pickled vegetables were quickly served. This was their dinner tonight.

"Brother, today's dinner is so sumptuous." Lu Xiaoxiao clapped her small hands and smiled.

Hearing his sister's words, Lu Heng's heart sank.

Compared to those days when his parents and big brother were still around, the food they ate now was much worse. Where did the 'sumptuous meal' comment come from?

His sister had always been understanding. In comparison, when he was her age, he often quarreled with his big brother.

"Xiaoxiao, in a few days, I will get us some fresh monster meat. That will be really delicious." Lu Heng smiled and patted his little sister's head.

However, when Lu Xiaoxiao heard his words, she stopped smiling and lowered her head while staring blankly at the paste in the bowl.

"Big brother, I think having this sort of food is good enough. If we eat too much meat, we'll grow fat and ugly. Xiaoxiao doesn't want to be ugly." Lu Xiaoxiao's voice was soft and sweet, and there was a pleading tone in her voice.

Lu Heng smiled bitterly. His sister was already so thin, so how could she be afraid of getting fat?

Of course, no matter what his sister said, he would not change his mind. No matter what, he would give his sister a good meal before he left.

'It would be great if I could become a martial artist. That way, I won't be forced into military service, and I'll also be able to afford to feed and get treatment for Xiaoxiao.'

Lu Heng secretly clenched his fists. His heart was in great turmoil.

There was only a little over two months remaining. It would probably be all for naught.

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