½ Prince Volume 2: Reality and Fantasy
Original novel in Chinese by: 御我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 4: Fate – translated by Spence
“Listen up, guys!” Wolf-dàgē’s tone was serious as he addressed us before the start of our first round in the finals. “We will need to work harder than ever now that we’re in the finals. The opponents that we are going to face will definitely be worthy foes. We must not take them lightly.”
All of us nodded earnestly.
“Lolidragon, do you know who we’re fighting next?” I asked. Lolidragon nodded, and I took another bite of bread before pressing her for details about the enemy.
Lolidragon wrinkled her brow and said, “They’re called ‘Ascendant Dragons’. I haven’t heard any special rumors about them, but their team’s combat strength seems to be pretty average. They only managed to get into the finals because they haven’t met any strong opponents thus far, so they should be pretty easy to handle.”
I let out a sigh of relief. “That’s great, then. It seems like our first match will be a cinch.”
I stepped into the arena, looking the epitome of cool as usual, but… Although it was normal to be nervous during the first match of the finals, my legs felt like jelly. My eyes were listless, my mind was completely blank, and my lips drew into a tight line as I stared dumbly at the opposing team.
At the center of that team, a very conspicuous couple was engaged in an extremely cloying and disgusting public display of affection…but that wasn’t the reason for my sudden loss of composure. The reason I was so shocked was because…
They were my parents – the same parents who had left my brother and me to fend for ourselves for months at a time as they went on their Nth honeymoon!
My god, Dad and Mom! You guys went on a honeymoon – how did you guys end up in Second Life?! How am I supposed to fight? If I beat up my parents, will I be considered an unfilial daughter? Worse yet, if I’m found out, MY ALLOWANCE WILL BE HISTORY.
“Prince, what’s the matter? Is something wrong?” Lolidragon asked, looking slightly concerned.
“Uh…everything’s fine!” I answered, willing myself to calm down. It won’t happen! Even my own twin brother – who sticks to me from dawn to dusk – doesn’t realize that I’m his sister, the lovely Feng Lan. If that’s the case, there’s no way that my parents – who go on honeymoons two hundred days a year – would recognize me! My allowance won’t be reduced for beating up my parents…
“Hubby, don’t you think that hottie over there looks a bit familiar?” remarked Ascendant Dragons’ mage, the lovey-dovey wife. The more she looked at him, the more she felt like she had seen Prince before…
The lovey-dovey husband looked fondly at his wife and, upon hearing her words, reluctantly raised his head to look. He replied, “Eh! He does look a tad familiar. Could he be one of our neighbors?”
I rolled my eyes. Dad, Mom, can’t you talk more softly? Even my teammates can hear you! Helplessly, I met the probing eyes of my teammates and shrugged innocently.
“Battle, begin!” the referee mercilessly shouted.
Ah, it started, it started! What do I do? My thoughts were in disarray as I looked at my teammates and then at my parents, my mind a battlefield of conflicting emotions.
“Honey, the fight’s started. Let’s finish this quickly so we can get on the plane and head home.”
“Oh…but if we go home, it won’t be just the two of us anymore! Plus, you’ll have to cook and do the chores, and you won’t be able to spend time with me. It’ll be so bothersome!” the lovey-dovey wife said, her face clearly revealing her desire not to return home.
“Haha, don’t worry! I’ve trained Feng Lan well! We’ll tell her to do the chores and cook. That way, I’ll be able to spend all my time with you, okay?” replied the lovely-dovey husband. Hahaha, he thought. As the saying goes, ‘Care for a daughter a thousand days, and she will take care of you for the rest of your life’!1
Mom! Dad! I’ve changed my mind! A vein popped on my forehead as I clenched my fists till my knuckles cracked. Even if it means that I will lose every cent of my allowance for the rest of my life, I will beat both of you to a pulp! “Prince…?” The members of Odd Squad looked at me in astonishment, as my entire body seemed to blaze with an unseen fury.
“I. Will. Obliterate. Them!” The words were ground out from between clenched teeth.
In the real world…
I stretched my hand out to turn off the noisily ringing alarm, and removed my game helmet.
Pinched by guilt, I wondered, Was I too brutal to my parents? Hmph! Forget it, they were the ones who betrayed me first, so they can’t blame me for getting back at them. Besides, all I did was punch my dad about a few hundred times. And I was really merciful to my mother; I killed her in one hit!
I stretched, crawled out of bed, and went to prepare breakfast. Today’s the first day of school; it’ll be bad if I’m late. I decided to quickly wash up, and then do battle with the mess of eggs, toast, and coffee.
Striding out of the kitchen with the aromatic plate of breakfast, I saw my brother lazily sprawled out on the dining table.
“What’s for breakfast, sis?”
“One specially cultivated energy-boosting egg, high class French toast, and a cup of thick and creamy Turkish coffee.”
“Oh… So it’s an egg sandwich with a cup of coffee!” my stupid brother said, before boorishly grabbing the plate and beginning to wolf it down. Waaah! That’s the breakfast that I poured my heart and soul into making! Can’t you eat it in a more gentlemanly manner?
I suddenly remembered something. “By the way, we’ll need to buy groceries after breakfast. Mom and Dad are coming back.”
“Eh? How do you know?” my brother asked, giving me a suspicious look.
My heart nearly stopped. “Uhhh…they called.”
“Really…? Since when did they learn to call and check up on their children?” Disbelief was clearly written all over my brother’s face.
“Just eat your toast, all right? If you keep pestering me, I’ll see to it that you don’t get dinner tonight,” I bellowed, pushing my guilty conscience aside.
“Okay, okay! …You’re always threatening me with food,” whined Yang Ming.
“What can I say? Food’s the only thing that works on you,” I said with a shrug. In this respect, we are clearly siblings.
Food is not our only common ground. Let me make it clear here that this unfortunate bond between my stupid brother and I goes a LONG way back. In both elementary and middle school, we were in the same class. We went to the same high school (although we were in different classes, as the school separated boys and girls), and now, we have the same classes in university. There’s only one way to explain this situation: fate.
I seriously suspect, however, that the REAL reason we have the same classes in university is because my lazy brother secretly copied my career planning form as he was too lazy to even fill out his own! (Not that he’s admitting to it!) In any case, we now attend the same university and even have the same classes. (Just as a side note, the university is very close to home, so we live at home and go to school via public transport.)
“Hurry up, sis! The bus is about to leave!” Yang Ming roared furiously.
“Okay, okay!” I yelled as I began sprinting madly, swearing silently, Stupid Yang Ming! You think my agility and the length of my legs in real life are the same as they are in ‘Second Life’?
Out of breath and panting hard, my brother and I entered the classroom a minute after the bell rang, where I discovered that the teacher was already at the podium! I hurriedly bowed and apologized to the teacher. “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t worry, just quickly find a seat and sit down.”
The teacher’s deep, gentle voice soothed me, but somehow it felt weird…
Why is this voice so incredibly familiar? An alarm sounded in my brain, and with some reluctance, I slowly raised my head to look at the teacher.
Wow…what a handsome face… GUI! I stared at him, slack-jawed and bug-eyed, and thought, Am I still playing?
“Sis? If you want to stare at hot guys, at least do it after you get to your seat.” My brother’s infuriating voice rang out in the classroom, and my classmates erupted in laughter.
I could only stagger to my usual seat in a stupor. My two best friends sat next to me: Gu Yun Fei (he’s male, but he’s a gossip queen so Jing and I treat him as a female) on my left and Lü Jing (she’s a cute girl) on my right.
“Who’s he?” I asked Yun and Jing, pointing at the familiar face at the podium.
“Seems like he’s a new professor,” Jing replied as she stared at the “new professor”, clearly mesmerized.
“He’s too young to be one!” I looked at “Gui” in disbelief. He can’t possibly even be thirty years old. He’s definitely not a day over twenty-five, at most twenty-six! He’s only a few years older than the students, but he’s already a professor?
“I heard that he’s a genius with an IQ of 200, that he entered university at the age of fifteen, graduated at eighteen, received a doctorate at twenty-two before furthering his studies overseas, and returned with another doctorate at twenty-five. And, at twenty-six years old, top universities in the country were all vying to employ him as a professor,” Yun said, envious.
…Then he might not be Gui after all! Whether or not Gui actually has anything inside that head of his is something I’ve been deeply suspicious about to this day. Still…he looks too much like Gui. He looks exactly as Gui does in Second Life, without any beautification whatsoever.
Professor “Looks-Like-Gui” smiled and said, “Good morning, students. I am your new Professor for History of Chinese Literature, Min Gui Wen; you can just call me Gui. I’m actually not that much older than you, so I hope we can get along like friends.”
I collapsed onto my desk. If I said he isn’t Gui, who would actually believe me? Gui is my professor? My god, I DON’T BELIEVE IT!
“Jing, can you help me ask him – Professor Min – if he plays Second Life?” I asked, having gathered up my courage. I decided to ascertain once and for all whether my luck really was that rotten.
Jing regarded me with suspicion. “Why don’t you ask him yourself?”
“Uhhh, I… I’m shy!” I replied with a weak laugh.
“…” Jing and Yun looked at me incredulously and my face burned with embarrassment.
“I have no idea what you’re trying to pull… Fine, whatever, I’ll help you ask! I’m interested, since I play Second Life as well,” Yun muttered. He then raised his hand and asked, “Professor Min, may I ask you something unrelated to class?”
Professor Min replied with an easygoing smile, “You may.”
“Do you play Second Life?”
Professor Min paused for a moment, surprised, and then replied enthusiastically, “Of course! I’m taking part in the Adventurers’ Tournament. My team has already cleared the first round of the finals!”
Four out of every five students present gave a surprised exclamation, such as “Really?”, “That’s incredible!”, or “What team are you in?”
As the atmosphere in class livened up, Professor Min also dropped his professor-like demeanor and answered all the questions happily. “I’m a bard of the demon race. I’m a member of Odd Squad.”
“Odd Squad? That’s a very famous and weird team. I heard that their main fighter, the warrior Prince, is extremely strong and incredibly handsome!” Yun exclaimed.
Professor Min… Gui enthused, “Yeah! Prince is really very strong, and he’s also extremely handsome.”
“Are you serious? Even more handsome than you, Professor?” Jing asked, astonished.
“He’s much better looking than me,” Gui replied, his expression serious.
“Oh my god, Lan, did you hear that? Aren’t you playing Second Life? Have you ever seen Prince?” Jing suddenly grabbed me by the shoulders and began shaking me, causing me to snap out of my zombie-like trance.
“I guess… you could say so!” I replied weakly, all my strength drained away now that the truth had been confirmed.
“Ohhh…so you must have seen Professor Min in Second Life! That’s why you wanted us to ask him, right, Lan?” Yun said, his bright voice attracting Gui’s attention.
Oh my god, Gui is looking at me! I avoided his glance and casually raised a hand to cover my face even as I mumbled, “Nah. I went to watch the Adventurers’ Tournament, so I saw him from afar, that’s all.”
Out of the blue, a disgruntled voice rang out in the classroom.
“Prince? Hmph!” Feng Yang Ming’s scorn was clearly written all over his face.
“Do you have something against Prince?” Gui asked. His expression had become frosty, and the atmosphere in the class cooled rapidly as well.
Yang Ming’s head was tilted to one side, his posture a clear display of arrogance as he replied, “I just had a run-in with him before, that’s all.”
I regarded the tense atmosphere between my brother and Gui nervously, but for some reason, Gui seemed to have frozen. The look in his eyes was too complicated for me to figure out. The chilly atmosphere lasted for a while before…
“Stand up,” Gui said in a stern voice.
Everyone in the class emitted an apprehensive gasp. I, too, glanced anxiously at my brother, deeply worried that he would offend the professor on the first day of classes. Yang Ming’s expression stiffened, and then he slowly got to his feet. Although he was doing as he was told, the look in his eyes said that he had no intention of backing down.
Gui seemed shaken at first. Then, as though he could hardly believe his eyes, he spoke at long last. “Prince…?”
Yang Ming looked at the professor uncomprehendingly.
“…” My eyes widened. What is this scene that I’m seeing?
Gui seemed to have realized that he was behaving oddly in front of his class, because he immediately calmed down and smiled. “You may sit down now! Let’s do a roll call so that I can get to know everyone.”
I sat there uneasily with a heap of unanswered questions until the dismissal bell finally rang. As soon as Gui walked out the classroom, I immediately collapsed onto my table. I thought, Just how exactly am I going to get through this semester? And Gui exclaimed “Prince” when he was looking at my brother earlier on – what on earth could that mean? Could Gui have mistaken my brother for me? That’s impossible…
CRAP! I thought, having suddenly remembered that Gui was GAY! …If he mistook my brother for me, then… Oh god! My blood seemed to freeze within my veins.
“Lan, Lan! Professor Min said that if we play Second Life, he’ll take us to meet the members of Odd Squad. I sooo wanna meet Prince!” Jing said with a longing face, “So I’ve decided to play, can you help me level?”
“Lan, tell me your username. I’ll PM you once I’m online and we can power-level Jing together! After that, we can all go and meet Prince. I want to ask him how he managed to become that strong,” said Yun, his expression similarly anticipatory.
“I…” What should I do…? I want to cry…
“What’s the matter? Or could it be that your level’s too low and you’re too embarrassed to tell us?” Yun asked, laughing.
“Err, yeah, that’s it! I didn’t train much, so I can’t help power-level Jing. You can take care of her,” I said hastily.
Puzzled, Jing said, “So what? We’ll just ask Yun to power-level the two of us in that case!”
I cast about for an excuse, any excuse. “I…uh, my hubby will power-level me!”
“Ohhh – so you just don’t want anyone barging into your private world, huh! You traitor, ditching your friends for a guy,” said Jing and Yun, poking fun at me.
“I…” Waaah… I really want to cry now…
In the school clinic…
Gui stepped into the school clinic. Leaning against a wall, he watched the tall, broad-shouldered doctor inside, who was busy putting away the medical equipment. After a long while, he finally said, “I met a student today who really resembles Prince.”
The doctor’s back seemed to freeze for a moment. Then he turned around. “What a coincidence! Prince is also here?”
“I’m not certain if it’s actually him. In terms of their looks, they’re not that alike, but their posture and attitude are almost identical,” Gui said, his brow creased with thought.
“Try asking him?”
“I wanted to ask at first, but he didn’t seem to recognize me. I don’t know if he’s just pretending not to know or if he really just isn’t Prince.” Gui raised his head and looked at the doctor. “Wolf-dàgē, should I ask him or not?”
“About that…hmmm!” Wolf-dàgē’s – Li Tian Lang’s – rough-hewn and open face was filled with hesitation. “Your appearance is exactly the same in real life as it is in-game, so if he really is Prince, he must have just been pretending not to know you, since he could probably recognize you… Why don’t you just ask him tonight, when you’re online?”
“Hmm, all right,” Gui replied, deep in thought.
At this time, I had just dragged my exhausted self home, where I saw my dad and mom fuming in the living room.
“Dad, Mom, you’re back,” I greeted them cautiously.
“XIAO LAAAAAN!” my mom suddenly hugged me tightly and began sobbing incoherently.
Shocked, I didn’t know what to do, so I turned hurriedly to my dad and asked, “Dad, what on earth happened?”
“It’s all because of that Prince…” my dad said indignantly through gritted teeth. “It took us so much effort to get into the finals, only to be defeated in the first round by him. Damn him!”
“…” It’s about my male alter-ego again, I thought, breaking out in cold sweat.
“That damn Prince, I hate him,” said my mom as she looked up, her face contorted with hatred.
“Who said that they hated Prince?” Yang Ming asked as he came through the door. “I hate that punk too – he stole my chicks and caused me to get punished on the first day of school by my professor. I’ll kill him, even if it costs me my life!”
“That’s right! We will kill him, even if it costs us our lives!” echoed my parents.
“…” *Cries* I finally understand how you felt besieged by enemies on all fronts, Xiang Yu!2
I met Lolidragon the moment I logged on to Second Life that night.
“Prince, you look rather pale,” said Lolidragon. She looked at me worriedly as I alternated between sitting down and pacing about uneasily.
“Is Gui here yet?” I asked, not really answering her question. Instead, I kept glancing left and right, unable to calm my heart down.
“Not yet… Since when did you care about him that much?” Lolidragon asked, looking at me with uncertainty.
“Quit having fun at my expense, Lolidragon! You have to save me!” I wailed as I hurtled into her arms.
Lolidragon clearly received a fright from my action. She quickly asked me what on earth had happened, so I tearfully recounted today’s tragic encounters. First, I told her about my meeting with Gui, and then about how he actually mistook my little brother for me. After that, I told her about my brother’s resentment towards me, and finally, about how even my parents vowed to kill me or die trying…
My god, this has to be my unluckiest day ever.
“Hmmm…” He really is pitiable. It’s such a big world, yet Prince simply had to run into Gui – this must be fate!
After three seconds of silently commiserating over Prince’s misfortune, Lolidragon began to feel that the whole incident was…very interesting!
Unfortunately, with my head buried in her arms, I did not notice that Lolidragon – who delighted in chaos – was grinning evilly, her fox’s tail showing…
“You don’t need to be so worried, Prince. You don’t even need to rush to deny it; I suspect that Gui might not believe you anyway. It’s only a matter of time before we meet Feng Wu Qing, and when that happens, Gui will realize that he’s made a mistake,” said Lolidragon.
In her head, she was thinking, Still, before we meet Feng Wu Qing… Heh heh, there’ll be a good show to watch! Lolidragon’s grin grew even more cunning…
“Really?” I asked, my brows furrowing.
Lolidragon began to nod frantically.
“Then…okay, I guess!” I said. I’m still a bit hesitant, but… Sigh! What will happen shall happen. What can I do about it, anyway?
Lolidragon suddenly pointed behind me and said, “Gui’s here.”
I froze. As I turned slowly, Gui’s familiar face with its playful, cheerful smile came into view.
I forced my tense facial muscles to relax and smiled awkwardly. “Morning, Gui.”
“Good morning, your Highness is as beautiful and noble as always on this morning.” Gui gave a sweeping bow as per usual.
“Yeah… Ahahaha…” I laughed weakly.
Gui – who had already raised both hands to protect his head in preparation for a beating – froze for a moment, before raising his head and giving me a puzzled glance. The playful smile that was originally on his face had disappeared, and the brainless Gui was replaced by the Gui with an IQ of 200. He stared deeply into my eyes as though he was contemplating something.
“Prince, are you still a student?” he asked.
“Eh? Uh, yeah!” I replied, and my heart nearly leapt out of my chest.
He continued to stare intently at me as he asked, “Do you attend XXX University?” He finally mentioned the name of my university.
Breaking out in a cold sweat, I lied through my teeth and said, “No.”
“Oh.” The word “suspicion” was clearly written in Gui’s eyes as he looked at me thoughtfully.
My face paled, and I turned to look at Lolidragon, but all she did was give me an “OK” sign. OK? Is there anything in the world less OK than this?
Luckily enough, Gui suddenly changed the topic. “Oh yeah, I met Wolf-dàgē at my school. He’s the school clinic’s doctor!”
Hearing that, my eyes nearly fell out. “WHAT?”
Wolf-dàgē is at my school as well? Oh god, is this series of fated encounters going to continue for much longer? GIVE ME AN ANSWER, GOD!
Even as I was cursing the heavens, Lolidragon was reviewing the tournament’s elimination flow chart with indecision on her face. Unfortunately, I had no interest in hearing who our next opponent would be. Doesn’t matter who it is, I’ll just vent all my anger on them! I though vehemently.
Just then, Wolf-dàgē’s voice rang out clearly, and I crawled unwillingly from my dark corner of despair to listen. “This time, our opponent is someone we know. It’s Rose Team.”
WHAT? This was yet another heavy blow to me. I crawled back into my dark corner to bewail Fate’s prejudice against me. It’s bad enough that I can’t vent my anger, but why does it have to be Rose Team, whose members all think that I’m gay…? Waaaaaaaaah!
“This match might prove troublesome for Gui,” Yu Lian-dàsăo said, looking at Gui with sympathy.
“Yeah, poor Gui.” Lolidragon, too, was looking at Gui as though he were someone who had already died.
However, Gui and I were both extremely confused. What does this have to do with Gui? Aren’t I the one who deserves more sympathy?
“I heard that Rose and Fairsky formed a support group for Prince, and that they’ve managed to get a lot of girls to join. Their group name seems to be… Rescue the Super Handsome Prince from the Demonic Clutches of the Gay Guiliastes and Help Prince Understand the Goodness of Women Once Again Support Group.” Lolidragon finished saying the name of the group in one breath, and almost choked in the process.
What sort of strangely named support group is that? I thought as I listened, flabbergasted. A support group has actually formed because of me? My god, am I not in enough trouble as it is?
“Moreover, in order to give Gui a huge thrashing, they’ve been undergoing a special training regimen recently. Fairsky has also spent a lot of money on all kinds of godly weapons, which have greatly boosted Rose Team’s combat strength,” Yu Lian-dàsăo added with a frown and a sigh.
There’s finally someone with worse luck than me, I thought, heaving a sigh of relief. I then gave Gui a look of commiseration. Unfortunately, the grin on my face completely gave away the fact that I was actually rejoicing in his suffering.
Gui merely smiled.
“For Prince’s sake, I can handle anything,” he said. He looked at me, his feelings written clearly on his face. He was promptly taken aside for a beating …
Right now, I can hardly be bothered with the fact that he is my professor. After all, he’s currently under the impression that I’m Feng Yang Ming! Even if Professor Min Gui Wen wants his revenge in real life, he won’t be looking for Feng Lan… Heh heh, Lolidragon’s advice is actually pretty good!
“While Prince is preoccupied with beating up Gui, let’s put our heads together and come up with a battle plan,” Wolf-dàgē said sternly. “Can anyone think of a way to deal with their godly weapons?”
“Hmph! I don’t believe that my Black Dao would suffer in comparison to a godly weapon!” I replied, even as I threw another punch at Gui.
“I also don’t feel that their godly weapons are that big a deal. I don’t believe they could beat us by using godly weapons alone,” Lolidragon added coldly. “Money isn’t all-powerful; money can buy godly weapons, but not the skill to use them.”
I lowered my fist for a moment and said slowly, “Lolidragon, you seem…rather pissed off?”
Lolidragon scowled, and shouted bitterly, “Of course I’m pissed off! Do you know how much money Fairsky spent on those godly weapons? Ten million real life dollars! She spent an entire ten freaking million dollars, just like that! If I had ten million, I wouldn’t have to work my ass off as a G– I WOULD HAVE RETIRED!”
So, basically, you’re jealous that she has so much money, I thought, looking helplessly at the resentful Lolidragon.
“Then first of all, let’s set aside the issue of the godly weapons. Now, Rose Team is comprised of two warriors, one archer, one priest, one mage, and one thief. It’s a pretty good team combination, but it shouldn’t pose much of a problem to us. Still, just to be on the safe side, we should take them seriously and not underestimate them,” Wolf-dàgē said seriously.
All the members of Odd Squad nodded in agreement, except for Gui… It wasn’t his fault, however, since a person who has passed out on the floor couldn’t possibly nod.
As I led the way into the arena, the unmistakably familiar faces of the members of Rose Team came into view. Standing at their helm were Fairsky and Rose, their expressions aggrieved as they looked at me. Inwardly, I felt extremely awkward, but on the surface, my expression was as cold and distant as ever.
“Prince…” Rose called out to me hesitantly.
I raised my hand, cutting her off. “Say nothing now. A match is a match; if there’s anything you want to talk about, it can wait until after the match.”
Hearing my words, tears began to well up in Rose’s eyes. The sorrow and hurt in her gaze intensified…
Uncertainty suddenly assailed me. Did I say something wrong?
“Prince, how could you say something so heartless?” Fairsky was filled with resentment, and she cried out, “Do you know how much we think of you each day? We attend every single one of your matches to cheer you on, and we even formed a support group for you. Is all that still not enough to move you?”
I’m heartless? I just wanted to deal with the matter at hand first! I really don’t understand the way girls think…
Shit! Am I becoming less and less like a girl and more like a guy!?
“Let’s get started!” I had no choice but to continue speaking coldly. Only after we’ve taken care of business can I openly discuss that support group with the super-hard-to-pronounce name with them.
The familiar voice of the judge rang out. “Battle, begin!”
Doll immediately summoned her skeletons. According to my calculations, the skeletons and I would be more than enough to keep Li’l Strong and Broken Sword busy. I decided to take care of Broken Sword first and leave Li’l Strong for the skeletons to take care of. Our conversation in the restaurant booth had made me realize that Broken Sword was a foe to be reckoned with.
As expected, Broken Sword swept his blade towards me with a cry of “Swaying Sword Style!”.
I immediately blocked his attack with my Black Dao, thinking, Hmph! My brother has described the contents of Jin Yong’s novel series to me so many times that I already know them like the back of my hand. There was a shower of silver and golden sparks as our weapons met with a resounding sound of metal clashing against metal.
Broken Sword was a worthy adversary, as I had predicted. As we fought back and forth, my blood began to boil from excitement. After we exchanged a series of blows, we found ourselves locked hilt to hilt. Disengaging, we each retreated a few steps for a slight reprieve.
“You are indeed strong, Broken Sword,” I said, looking at him with respect.
“Quit talking trash.” Broken Sword’s eyes were vengeful and filled with hatred, shocking me to the core.
What’s wrong? There’s really no reason for him to hate me this much, even if he does believe me to be gay, right? After all, I didn’t XX or OO him, right?
“A match is just a match, Broken Sword. Is there really a need for you to hate me this much?” I roared even as I blocked his sword with my dao.
“If it wasn’t for you, our Rose Team would not have become like this!” Broken Sword cried out agitatedly.
“Become like this?” Like what? I thought, and froze… but, most unfortunately, freezing up on a battlefield was not a smart thing to do. Even though I managed to block his sword, I was punched square in the face by his left hook and fell to the ground.
Broken Sword immediately used his knee to pin me against the floor, and placed his sword against my throat. He had clenched his teeth together so tightly that he was grinding them as he stood over me.
Through gritted teeth, he spat, “It’s you. You’re the one who changed Rose and Fairsky. Rose can only stare at your picture all day long and cry. Meanwhile, Fairsky keeps spending thousands and thousands of dollars to buy godly weapons, or to bribe opposing teams to surrender, just in hopes of meeting you in one of the matches. This team… T-this team! If not for the fact that we don’t have the heart to abandon Rose and Fairsky, the four of us would’ve quit this team a long time ago.”
By now, both teams had stopped to listen to Broken Sword’s words. I was no different – I could only listen to his accusation dumbly, before turning to look at Li’l Strong, Legolas, and For Healing Only. They were all glaring at me with a mixture of fury and indignation.
Rose had covered her face with her hands and begun to cry, while Fairsky shouted resentfully, “Can’t I like him? The person I like is Prince and Prince alone. No matter what, I will never give up. No matter what methods or strategies I have to use – even if I have to spend immeasurable amounts of money – I will never give up.”
“Without sparing a thought for the number of people you will hurt – people who are by your side, and care for you?” Doll asked, looking sorrowfully at Fairsky. A twinge of guilt flickered across the latter’s face.
I listened, feeling rather numb, as the usually childlike Doll actually said something so mature. There’ve just been too many astonishing happenings today. My nerves have taken too many shocks; I can’t feel anything anymore.
“I don’t care!” Fairsky yelled, covering her ears as though she could block out Doll’s words. “And Broken Sword, move your weapon away from Prince! Don’t you dare hurt Prince, or…or I’ll take back the godly weapon I gave you!”
The instant those words left Fairsky’s mouth, everyone realized that she had made a huge mistake. Broken Sword’s face first flushed. Then it turned pale, and then green…
He gave Fairsky a pain-filled look before wordlessly moving his sword away from my throat. With a loud clang, he tossed the sword to the ground. Then, he turned and left the arena.
“Broken Sword…” Fairsky watched him as he left, stunned.
There was another clang as a heavy object was dropped to the ground. Li’l Strong had discarded his large axe as well.
“That’s enough, Fairsky. I don’t want your money,” he said before following Broken Sword out of the arena. With a cold expression, Legolas threw down his bow and left without saying a word. Finally, For Healing Only heaved a deep sigh and let go of his staff, casting a sorrowful glance at Fairsky and Rose before leaving.
Rose looked at the backs of the departing Rose Team members, and the expression on her face betrayed her inner struggle and indecision. At long last, she walked towards me and said, “Prince, I will learn to forget you.”
Then she suddenly wrapped her arms around me and KISSED ME…
My mind was a sea of white. Feeling completely numb, I thought, Great! Another event to add to my list of shocking events for the day… I’ve just given my first kiss away to a beautiful woman!
“Good bye, Prince.” Rose said with a tearful smile – a smile that seemed to say that she had freed herself from something at long last. I watched as she gracefully turned and left. Although she may have stolen my first kiss, I still wished her well from the bottom of my heart, and I hoped that she would find her true Prince Charming next time.
“Rose, you’re leaving too?” Fairsky shouted. “Even you are leaving me?”
Rose paused in mid-step and took a deep breath before replying. “Yes, I’m leaving. I hope you too can snap out of it soon, Fairsky.” Then she continued to walk away.
“I don’t want to! I don’t want to give up! I won’t give up, Prince,” Fairsky shouted at me, her eyes full of tears. Then, she fled from the arena, sobbing into her hands…and for some unknown reason, Doll chased after her…
As the first team that I’d met when I had first started out in Second Life crumbled apart before my very eyes, there was an indescribable pain in my heart. However, what upset me even more was…
Is it my fault? I couldn’t help but wonder, After all, isn’t it me who caused Rose Team to become like this?
“Lolidragon, is my deception also hurting many people by my side who care for me?” I asked over team channel.
“Err… Well, I think Gui enjoys being hurt by you,” Lolidragon replied casually.
“Lolidragon…” I said reprovingly, but she interrupted me immediately.
“You needn’t concern yourself with it, Prince. Trust me, it isn’t your fault,” she said firmly.
“Really?” I asked, still feeling doubtful.
Wolf-dàgē, Yu Lian, and Gui listened to the dialogue between Lolidragon and I, exchanging confused looks. However, they were very thoughtful and refrained from asking me any questions at the time.
“Fairsky, wait up!” Doll was already out of breath from running, but she was still unable to catch up to Fairsky, who was a thief.
Fairsky spun around. “What do you want? To make fun of me?” she demanded.
“It’s not that. It’s just… I understand Fairsky-jiějie’s way of thinking,” Doll said softly.
“You like Prince too?” Fairsky asked skeptically.
“No, it’s just that Doll’s family is also very rich…”
Fairsky seemed a little stunned. “You…? I couldn’t tell at all.”
“That’s not the main point, Fairsky-jiějie. Doll just wants to tell you that you can’t continue to be like this. Many things cannot be bought with money,” Doll said. Her tone relaxed. “Doll also used to think you could get everything you wanted with money… It was only later that I realized you couldn’t buy anything that truly mattered.”
“But… but I really like Prince. Aside from using money, I don’t know of any other way for me to obtain his heart,” Fairsky said dejectedly. I’m not as pretty as Rose or Lolidragon, and my personality is too fiery. Without my wealth, how else could I outshine other women?
Doll replied firmly, “If you really like Prince-gēge, then do as Doll says.”
“What should I do?”
“Apologize to everyone in Rose Team.”
Upon hearing that, Fairsky’s face immediately stiffened, and Doll quickly added, “If you had gotten along well with your team members and worked hard together to defeat our team, Prince-gēge wouldn’t have begrudged you. He might even have really respected you, or liked you a lot! Didn’t you see how much regard Prince-gēge had for Broken Sword-gēge?”
“Mm!” Fairsky agreed reluctantly after a moment of thought. After all, it wasn’t like she wanted such a rift between her and the other members of Rose Team, either.
“Doll, you really are an unusual person,” Fairsky said, looking at Doll curiously. “Who exactly are you…?”
Doll only smiled mysteriously.
As always, it was time to eat up and rest after a match. Gathered in the restaurant with a huge number of dishes on the table in front of them, the members of Odd Squad…watched helplessly as I heaved yet another sigh. I hadn’t even picked up my chopsticks.
“To think that even food can’t cheer Prince up; this is truly unprecedented!” Lolidragon said helplessly. She looked around the table, but everyone else just shook their heads, unable to think of a way to improve my mood.
“Sigh…” I had been mulling over what had happened to Rose Team; the guilt that weighed my heart down felt like a stone that had been picked up from a pile of dung – it was crushingly heavy and reeked disgustingly. Even if I wanted to, it was impossible to pretend that I didn’t care…
In particular, Doll’s words kept echoing in my head. Should I just come clean with everyone? I wondered. But what will happen if I tell the truth? What if they can’t accept it? I was on the verge of pulling my hair out. What should I do? What should I do?
“Don’t blame yourself for this, Prince. After all, there are too many girls out there who like you. There’s just no way you could possibly return all of their feelings,” Yu Lian-dàsăo said gently.
“But…” The problem is that I’m a girl, and it remains a fact that I lied to all those girls…
“But what?” There was a slight note of coerciveness in Yu Lian-dàsăo’s gentle voice as she asked.
“Err…” My face became white as a sheet. Do I really have to come clean with them? Is today the day that the truth gets revealed?
“Prince, what is it that you’ve been lying to everyone about…?”
“I…” I’ll come clean with the truth then! I don’t want to keep deceiving everyone, I thought unhappily. “I’m a gir—”…
Yu Lian-dàsăo interrupted me, saying, “I think the deception that you were talking about refers to something that you have been hiding from us, right? Prince, you don’t have to fret over something like that. Everyone conducts themselves differently on the Internet than they do in real life. Take me, for example. I’m actually not nearly this gentle and easy-going in real life!” As she said that, Dàsăo even attempted to demonstrate for us by assuming a stern, frowning look…
Dàsăo, I think your “gentle and easy-going” shadow smile is far scarier…
Wolf-dàgē also tried to comfort me, saying, “That’s right, Prince. As long as the you in-game is still you, that’s enough for us. What sort of person you are in real life isn’t important.”
“That’s not exactly true, either. After all, what if Prince is one of the ten most wanted fugitives?” Lolidragon faked a terrified expression as she looked me…
You! Get this through your head, you stupid Lolidragon! Who’s the one who’s on the ten most wanted fugitives list? You’re the one who tops the list of “ten most wanted criminals” in Second Life!
“That’s impossible. His noble Highness cannot possibly be a wanted fugitive,” Gui said, looking at me with unwavering certainty. His eyes seemed to say that he trusted in me absolutely…so I began to beat him up. Why, you ask? Because my hands were itching from not having beaten him up for so long!
“Yay! Prince-gēge started beating up Gui-gēge! That’s great! It looks like Prince-gēge has recovered at last!” Doll exclaimed as she happily began to watch a certain person beat Gui up.
“Yep, yep, if he can beat up Gui, then it means that everything’s fine now.” The remaining members of Odd Squad nodded in relief.
Whew! That was a long and satisfying work out. It felt like I was using my fists to vent out all the negative feelings that had built up in my heart.
I looked down at the broken and tattered form of Gui. Thank you for your sacrifice! I placed my palms together and prayed for his departed soul. May you rest in peace!
It was about time for us to go offline. “See you, guys,” said each of my teammates in turn. I watched as everyone logged off one by one, but just as I myself was about to log off to cook breakfast, Gui suddenly grabbed my trouser leg.
He raised his head and looked up at me, his gaze as unwaveringly certain as before.
“I’m sorry, Prince…”
“Huh?” I was completely mystified. Since when does a victim apologize to the person who beats him up?
“I won’t try to pry into your affairs anymore,” Gui said, gazing at me tenderly. His expression was so captivatingly beautiful that it set my heart aflutter.
“No matter who you might be, I don’t mind,” Gui said, his voice intense.
Oh really? For some reason, I felt very displeased upon hearing that sentence. I thought, You’re gay, but I’m a girl. Are you sure you don’t mind?
“Even if the person I am in real life is drastically different from the person I am in-game?” I asked coldly.
“I firmly believe that who you are now is the true you, just as the person I am right now is the true me,” Gui said firmly. “Everything else is of no importance – be it gender, appearance, or even the facades we assume in real life… none of those are important.”
Gui’s words made me very curious. Does that mean that the brainless Gui is the real Gui?
“So the Professor Min in real life is just a facade?”
As soon as those words left my mouth, Gui froze.
I froze as well. Doesn’t that sentence clearly imply that I know Gui in real life? My face paled, but there was no way out of this now, so I looked at Gui sternly and said, “I am not Feng Yang Ming.”
I might as well say it. After all, the cat’s already out of the bag. Besides, if it means preventing Gui from continuing to mistake my brother for me… See how nice I am to you, Yang Ming? Waaah…
Gui suddenly recovered his composure and, with a smiling face, replied simply, “Mm, you’re not Feng Yang Ming, then… I’m not Min Gui Wen, I’m Guiliastes!”
Wait a… Oh my god, forget jumping into the Yellow River,3 I think even jumping into bleach won’t clean this mess up! Bro, I didn’t set you up on purpose. I’ve already tried to clear your name. This is heaven’s will; I have no say in it!
[½ Prince Volume 2 Chapter 4 End]
1 Care for a daughter a thousand days, and she will take care of you for the rest of your life: In Chinese, this is “养女千日用在一生” (prn. yăng nǚ qiān rì yòng zài yì shēng), which literally means “take care (as in feed and clothe) a daughter for a thousand days and she will be useful for the rest of your life.” This is a pun on “养兵千日用在一时” (prn. yăng bīng qiān rì yòng zài yì shí), which means “take care of a soldier for a thousand days and he will be useful for a short moment.”
2 Xiang Yu: Xiang Yu is one of the most prominent generals in Chinese history. Following the death of Qin Shi Huang, the Qin dynasty came to end (overthrown by Xiang Yu) and there emerged two groups – the Chu and the Han. Xiang Yu was of the Chu nobility, and thus he rose to assume the kingship of the Chu, but he was defeated ultimately by Liu Bang, leader of the Han and ancestor of Liu Bei (you know, that Three Kingdoms fellow).
According to legend, Xiang Yu was surrounded on a battlefield when he and his bodyguards made a final stand. Xiang Yu ultimately fell on his sword (some said he decapitated himself), preferring to die to on the battlefield and with his honor intact. After his death, the Han dynasty came into power. Go here for more information.
3 Forget jumping into the Yellow River: Here, Feng Lan is referring to a Chinese saying, which goes, “Jumping into the Yellow River won’t wash you clean of your transgressions/the stigma of suspicion”.