½ Prince Volume 2: Reality and Fantasy
Original novel in Chinese by: 御我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 7: A Battle Without Regrets – translated by K00st3r and Erialis
Despite having completed our final training session the previous night, I continued to be plagued by a feeling of guilt – a feeling that I still wasn’t strong enough. Thus, I decided to apply for medical leave and stay home to train in secret.
To be honest, although we’d fought so many rounds in the tournament, I’d never given a thought to the possibility of us losing a particular match. However, I hadn’t expected that we would come this far in the tournament, either.
Am I really that strong? I couldn’t help but feel a little worried. All I could think of was fighting more mobs and gaining more levels. Will I be able to survive in the midst of six hundred people with my current level of sixty-two? I have no idea! However, the thought “I will lose” still did not cross my mind.
With a horizontal slash, I defeated the last monster and brushed my sweat-soaked hair back from my forehead. It was only then that I noticed that someone had approached.
“Yeah.” Gui approached me, and there was a melancholic air about him.
“You’re able to come online this early today?” I asked. In my head I wondered, did the professor skip classes too?
“Yeah. I usually have more time on Fridays. On the other hand, this seems to be the first time you’re online on a Friday morning,” said Gui, a faint smile on his lips.
Huh… Well, that’s because I have other classes to attend! I retorted acerbically in my head. “Yeah, that’s right, haha.”
Gui continued to smile, but he could not conceal the forlorn look in the depths of his eyes.
That forlorn look shouldn’t be appearing on Gui’s face. This isn’t the Gui I know; I don’t want to see him like this!
“I don’t like to see you like this, Gui. I much prefer you the way you were before, always cheekily calling me ‘Noble Lord Prince’.” As I finished speaking, I raised my dao and stalked towards a freshly-spawned batch of mobs.
“Really? But I…” Gui’s eyebrows creased together as he exclaimed in a emotional voice, “I need your answer. Only then can I carry on!”
“Huh? Don’t I always answer you by beating you up?” I replied. I was immersed in the thrill of swinging my blade to kill monsters – sprinting, leaping, and dodging.
“What sort of answer is that…”
Gui watched me intently, clearly mesmerized. His eyes followed my ceaselessly moving form, noting the light dancing off my blade, and that exhilarated and slightly bloodthirsty smile of mine.
“You really do like fighting very much, Prince,” Gui observed.
I laughed heartily as I continued to fight. “Yep, I like it more than anything else. Swinging my dao, kicking, dodging… Don’t you find it exhilarating?”
“I find it far more exhilarating to see your smile,” Gui murmured. Then he said, “Do you really like me the way I was before?”
“Yeah!” I ducked to evade an attack, but just as I raised my head, a translucent arrow whizzed by my ear. Turning my head to look at the arrow, I saw it protruding from the forehead of a random mob that was about to land a sneak attack on me. I gave a low whistle and offered Gui a thumbs up.
Gui brushed back his hair with one hand and deliberately struck a graceful pose. “In order to rescue Noble Lord Prince, Gui is a one-hundred-percent-accurate shot!”
As soon as he finished speaking, Gui was sent sprawling by the Meatbun that I’d lobbed at him. With a smug smile, I retorted, “I told you, don’t call me ‘Lord Prince’! Also, in order to beat you up, I am also a one-hundred-percent-accurate shot!”
Just then, Lolidragon’s voice came over the team channel. “Wah! Who’s online? You’re even earlier than me.”
“It’s me and Lord Prince,” Gui replied.
I, on the other hand, remarked doubtfully, “Is anyone on this earth not more diligent than you?”
“Whoa! Prince-gēge is also online?” Doll’s startled voice came over the channel as well.
“Looks like everyone’s arrived,” Yu Lian-dàsăo added, sounding amused. “Right now, I’m breakfasting with a wolf that skipped work!”
“Yu Lian…” Wolf-dàgē’s voice carried a hint of embarrassment as it came over the channel.
A playful notion struck me, and I exclaimed, “Quick, quick! Everyone assemble at the breakfast shop, so that we can be a five-hundred watt light bulb!”1 With that, I set off at lightning speed for the city, dragging Gui along behind me.
“Prince,” said Wolf-dàgē to me helplessly, “I know you’re here to be a light bulb, but do you have to stare so at me and Yu Lian?”
In a stern voice, I replied, “Wolf-dàgē, I’m afraid that I will fail to fulfill my duties as a light bulb if I don’t.”
“Prince, do you have the confidence that we will win?” Yu Lian-dàsăo asked in her gentle voice.
“None whatsoever,” I replied honestly, but seeing how the members of Odd Squad immediately became a little nervous, I added, “But I have no intention of losing, either.”
“No confidence that we will win, but no intention of losing, either? As expected, that’s something you would say,” Lolidragon said, and then broke out laughing.
I stretched out my right hand and gave everyone a confident smile. They smiled back at me and then stacked their hands on top of mine.
“Odd Squad, win!” I bellowed.
“Odd Squad, WIN!” the members of Odd Squad roared in unison.
“Let’s go, everybody! The final round’s about to start,” I said. As always, I walked towards the tunnel leading to the arena. As always, I felt no fear. As always, I did not think about whether I would lose. As always, my beloved teammates followed silently behind me.
In the instant I stepped into the arena, I hesitated, and then took off my mask and tossed it onto the floor. Turning around to look at my teammates, I saw that they were stunned for a moment. However, upon seeing the unshakeable resolve in my gaze, they smiled before also removing their masks and tossing them to one side.
“It doesn’t matter what the results are, so long as our prowess in battle and our unyielding attitude are engraved into the minds of all those present,” I said, my tone somber as one making a vow.
The teams had gathered at the center of the colosseum-styled arena, standing in loose groups here and there.
“Everyone, a hundred of Second Life’s most outstanding teams will soon be participating in an intense battle for survival. Don’t look away, or you’ll miss seeing this exciting scene. Don’t close your mouths – cheer your hearts out for your favorite team! I am Xiao Li, the commentator who will be reporting this entire life-and-death battle for you all today,” Xiao Li roared, and he went so far as to hop around in a crazed manner as he clutched the microphone.
The atmosphere in the stadium was wild. Banners with the names of various teams hung all around the audience, while the spectators themselves hollered the names of the teams they were supporting.
I stared wide-eyed, noting that the sight of six hundred people was really something out of the ordinary. Worse still, these six hundred people very clearly formed three large camps.
Courageously, confidently, and proudly, I…snuck to a random corner to wait. Don’t kid me! The strength of one’s fighting spirit or the amount of one’s courage doesn’t matter; if you smash an egg against a rock, the result will never change!
I looked at the frontlines of the three camps. There, at the forefront of the three camps, stood their leaders: a tigerman warrior, a human warrior, and a holyman warrior. Each one of them had the presence of a king.
“Hmph. Standing at such an obvious spot, the king should take care not to become the deceased.”2 Who? Who was it who said that this is a case of sour grapes?
At that moment, the members of Dark Emperor filed over to stand next to us.
“What do you think our chances of victory are?” Wicked asked me calmly.
“Hmph, it’s as big as can be, about as big as my chest!” (An A-cup…it hurts to admit!)
I even wounded my own ego when making the analogy. Looks like that abusive streak in me is growing with each passing day, and I’m not even sparing myself.
Ming Huang looked at my chest with derision and said, “That’s one lousy analogy. You’re so flat that you don’t even have any chest muscles to speak of.”
You damn kid; I’m still an A-cup at the very least, okay?
“Be careful, this battle will be very dangerous,” Wicked said. His brow was creased with worry as he looked at me.
“Don’t worry about me; you should watch over Feng Wu Qing carefully instead!” Sigh! I’d originally intended not to think anymore about that heartrending issue, but now that I’ve said it, I guess it’s all right. I hope that Wicked will take good care of my brother.
I turned my head back and glanced worriedly at Wu Qing, but he and Wicked both pretended to look at me uncomprehendingly.
Perhaps they don’t want to let others know? After all, this kind of thing isn’t that common, and not everyone is as open-minded as I am and able to accept this kind of BL relationship.
Good luck, brother! Sister will always be supporting you silently, I thought as I looked at my little brother with tears in my eyes. I threw a sympathetic look Gui’s way as well. It can’t be helped, who asked my brother to fall in love with Wicked! Poor Gui.
Without waiting for the three of them to respond, I beckoned to Yu Lian-dàsăo. “Dàsăo, you should come over here! It looks like the battle’s about to start. As soon as it begins, we’ll have to pay attention to the situation and look for a new spot where we can avoid trouble accordingly.” Yu Lian-dàsăo nodded in acknowledgment.
“Prince, both you and Yu Lian must be careful. Remember, you are both very important, so both of you must survive to the last.” Wolf-dàgē looked at me, and after I gave him the “OK” sign, he turned towards Lolidragon and Doll. “Lolidragon, you must make sure that your enemies are not nearby. If possible, avoid having to sacrifice yourself. Also, Doll will be depending on you, although somehow it seems to me that you’re the one depending on Doll…”
Lolidragon smiled, embarrassed.
“Wolf-dàgē, Gui will be in your care,” said Gui. He looked at Wolf-dàgē, a fragile, gentle, and submissive expression on his face…before one of Yu Lian-dàsăo’s shadow smiles scared him into a corner to repent his actions.
“Battle, begin.” The referee once again shouted those familiar words.
Although the battle had begun, everyone stood stock-still and remained quiet. The audience ceased their cheering as well. The atmosphere was such that no one dared to exhale, and a silence had fallen over the entire battleground – the type of silence that came before a storm.
I, too, moved nothing except for my eyes. My gaze darted from the left where the mighty tigerman stood – not bad, his muscles are so oversized that they look kind of disgusting – to the right, where the super cool-looking human warrior was – very good, that cold expression really pisses me off – and lastly to the holyman warrior in the middle. I admired the holyman’s girly beauty for a moment. This guy probably is a gay…right? I speculated.
In the end, it seemed like the beastman warrior couldn’t stand the silence anymore. He stretched both his hands out and made a rude gesture at the human and holyman. The human warrior fixed him with a cold look in reply, while the holyman merely gave an unconcerned smile. The beastman warrior roared, pointing a finger at the human warrior.
“AT THEM!” He roared, shattering the silence in the entire arena. The members of the tigerman’s alliance began to charge.
In contrast, “Kill!” was all that the human warrior said before charging towards the oncoming enemies.
The holyman warrior, however, maintained his relaxed pose. He stretched out a hand to stop the members of his alliance behind him from moving forward to join in the fray. “The clam and the crane quarrel; the fisherman prevails,” he said simply.3
I’ve got to hand it to this guy; he really is a sneaky bastard.
I made my mind up then. After pulling Yu Lian-dàsăo to where I was, I took advantage of the chaos to stealthily slip through the battle zone from behind. While everyone’s attention was on the battle between the humans and beastmen, I snuck up and hid behind the holymen’s alliance. This place should be a safe spot for the time being, I thought.
There was a tap on my shoulder, and I turned my head to look. One, two, three… Ten people. Excellent, the members of Odd Squad and Dark Emperor have all come over to avoid the conflict. Once again, I looked forward at the scene of the grand melee.
It really is a chaotic battle!4 The situation before us could only be described as one completely lacking in technique. Often, individuals couldn’t tell who they were attacking, nor did they know who attacked them. Still, the players couldn’t be blamed for the lack of technique in their fighting. After all, since they were being squeezed together like the meatballs I make, it was already a miracle that they could find the space to swing their weapons around. Technique? Forget it.
Before long, there were already dozens of beams of white light shooting into the sky.
Suddenly, the human warrior discovered that something was wrong. He began to bellow desperately, and it seemed that he was directing members of his alliance to come over and do battle with the members of the holymen’s alliance. I understood what he was shouting about when I saw the battle grew closer and closer to where the holymen were. At the same time, the human warrior led a group of particularly outstanding fighters to charge directly at the holyman warrior leading the alliance. They began to fight!
Finally, now even this side of the arena is no longer safe. I looked over my shoulder at everyone, and said in a low voice, “Each group, take care! Don’t go head-to-head with them; no one is allowed to fly away, you understand me?”
“Understood.” All of them met my gaze steadily.
“Scatter,” I then commanded.
Holding Yu Lian-dàsăo’s hands tightly, I spotted an area behind the main fray which nobody paid much notice to, and we began to make our way over. Although we attracted unwanted attention a number of times along the way, I never retaliated. Instead, I relied on my agility to dodge like mad, or used my dao to block attacks before continuing to run for my life. Luckily for us, the situation on the battlefield was truly chaotic, and I only needed to flee. There wasn’t really anyone who was free to pursue me and Yu Lian-dàsăo, although occasionally there would be someone shouting stuff like “coward” or “lackey” after us. Hmph! This is called “preserve a green mountain and one will not have to fear for lack of firewood to burn”, understand?5
What I don’t get is why all these people are eagerly rushing into the midst of the human meatball as though they are contented just to be able to hack at others a few times? Look, of the three alliance leaders, is any one of them in that crowd?
Ah, can’t talk now, there are blades and swords every which way and fists and legs flying everywhere; I’d best focus on dodging them.
“Members of the audience, look at this chaotic battlefield where all of the participants are busy fighting. According to the latest data, already a hundred and thirty-one…a hundred thirty-five participants have been eliminated, and eleven teams have been completely wiped. Right now, the ones who are garnering the most attention are the three alliance leaders, not one of whom has been eliminated so far. Will one of the teams that they belong to emerge victorious? Or will it be a case of mutual destruction?
“Whoa, whoa, the beastman’s giant axe has once again met with the cold steel of the human warrior’s sword. Which one of them will be defeated in this fight?” Xiao Li was so agitated that he was practically showering saliva everywhere, but thanks to his report I was able to stay on top of the current situation.
Over a hundred people have been eliminated already? No wonder it looks like the sky has been lit with fireworks. If we weren’t so busy fleeing for our lives, I would definitely stop to admire the view, I thought.
“Yu Lian-dàsăo, can you still carry on?” I asked worriedly, as she had been dragged along by me as we dashed frantically through the fighting the whole time.
“I’m fine, and it seems like everyone else is fine as well,” said Yu Lian-dàsăo. However, she then added, “What I meant was, all the members of Odd Squad are fine – but it seems like Wicked and Ming Huang are in trouble!”
“What?” My brows furrowed together. “Where are they?”
“To our left. It seems like it was because Ming Huang was unwilling to flee obediently.”
“Damn it!” I should have thought of it. With Ming Huang’s personality, if someone called him a coward or other similar stuff, he would definitely not let the insult slide. There’s an eighty percent chance that he would drag Wicked along into a fight with the other party.
To save or not to save? Isn’t that obvious! I gave my own cheeks a hard pinch, thinking, if I don’t save them, how could we be called allies? Even as I used my dao to deflect the blades of nearby weapons, I asked, “Dàsăo, which group is the closest to us?”
“Wolf and Gui are just behind us.”
“Good.” I abruptly changed directions and immediately spotted Wolf-dàgē and Gui standing not too far away from us. I rushed over to where they were.
“Wolf-dàgē, Gui, you guys protect Dàsăo for a while. I have to go save people,” I said.
Looking in Ming Huang and Wicked’s direction, I saw that they had been surrounded by four players. Wicked was having difficulty defending against three of them by himself.
First, I snuck up behind the enemy. Like a ghost appearing out of nowhere, I slit the throat of the nearest mage, who had been standing at their back. He did not even have the time to cry out before he flew away. Wicked saw me then, and I gave him a look warning him not to say anything. I then proceeded to single out the strongest of the three warriors, and brutally hacked off his arm. Shocked, he spun around to look at me, and with a single thrust I drove my blade through his heart, making him my second kill for today’s battle.
Of the two remaining warriors, one had already turned around to face me. I turned about and retreated, leading him in the direction of Gui and the others. I made a gesture at my forehead to Gui, and Gui gestured back at me to say that it was no problem.
I watched as Gui strummed his guqin, sending a single Supersonic Soul-chasing Arrow in my direction, and then I ducked and rolled forward to avoid the arrow. When I looked back, I saw that Gui had upheld his claim of being a hundred percent accurate shot; the translucent arrow was planted solidly in the forehead of the warrior who had been chasing me.
Wicked had also finished off the remaining warrior by then, and he was looking my way. I gave him a smile and he gave me thumbs up in appreciation.
Returning to Gui and Wolf-dàgē’s side, I grabbed Yu Lian-dàsăo’s hand and, before pulling her away, said, “Guys, continue to work hard and flee for your lives!”
“Prince, you have to be careful of that holyman warrior. I have a feeling that he will be your opponent in the end,” Yu Lian-dàsăo cautioned me thoughtfully.
Yu Lian-dàsăo really isn’t an ordinary person, I thought. She’s being dragged after me as we sprint, yet she can still speak in a stern voice. I’m impressed!
“Right. I’ll be careful, Dàsăo.” But first, we must survive in this remaining crowd. With only two hundred plus players remaining (according to Xiao Li’s report), I was finding it harder and harder to make use of the chaos to run away. Moreover, many of the enemies we encountered would chase us for a long time before they were willing to give up.
“Prince, the beastman warrior has flown away. The alliances of the human and holyman warriors have now surrounded the remainders of the beastman warrior’s allies. It looks like the beastmen’s alliance is about to be completely wiped out. I think the holyman warrior’s alliance will probably be the last one standing out of the three. If you have the chance, you should kill some of the members of the holymen’s alliance; otherwise, they’ll have too many members left at the end. If that happens, it’ll be difficult for us to win even if we combine forces with Dark Emperor,” Yu Lian-dàsăo said, her tone betraying her anxiety.
“Huh… But I have my hands full, with one hand holding Dàsăo’s, and the other hand holding my sword,” I replied helplessly. And my two legs are busy running, so they’re not free to kick anyone either.
“Prince, you can leave me with Lolidragon and Doll!” Yu Lian-dàsăo smiled gently at me. “I think Lolidragon’s enemies probably don’t have the time to hunt her down, plus most male players usually aren’t too keen on attacking girls, so the two of them are pretty relaxed.”
“But our strategy…” I looked at Yu Lian-dàsăo in askance.
“This is a tactic to deceive our enemies.” A broad smile lit up Yu Lian-dàsăo’s face, but…how odd, why am I covered in goosebumps? “Go and help the human warrior right away – and make sure you even the odds between his alliance and the holyman’s. Then, when both of them are heavily injured, it would be best if you could make use of the opportunity to stab them in the back…hehe.”
Yu Lian-dàsăo, you really aren’t an ordinary character. I’m starting to be curious about what Yu Lian-dàsăo’s job in the real world is, I thought even as I dashed towards Lolidragon. Luckily for us, she and Doll weren’t too far away.
“So I’ll be leaving you with Lolidragon? Be careful, you all,” I said worriedly.
Yu Lian-dàsăo gave a light knock on my head with her fist. “You’re the one who needs to be careful,” she chided.
I grinned as I jogged off, preparing to execute Yu Lian-dàsăo’s terrifying strategy.
“Play to your heart’s content, Prince. If we made you hide like a turtle throughout the entire battle, then there would be no meaning in participating in this tournament,” Yu Lian-dàsăo murmured to herself.
As I looked at furiously battling form of the human warrior and the relaxed, laid-back holyman warrior, I thought, Help the humans? This will be a bit challenging…but interesting!
I smiled faintly, and in my chest there was a slight twinge of excitement. With the human warrior tightly surrounded by enemies, it was the perfect opportunity for me to pretend to be a member of his alliance. The moment I saw a gap in the human wall that surrounded him, I charged. In a single move, I lunged forward and rolled inside the bounds of the ring, and then began to stab savagely at the feet of those who had gathered around. In an instant, many of them fell to their knees and began to howl in pain.
“You are?” The attacks on the human warrior had eased and he looked me in surprise.
“A friend!” At least for the present moment, I thought, giving him a friendly pat on the back.
“You’re not from my alliance; I don’t remember you,” said the human warrior doubtfully as he tried to recall, but it was impossible for him to have overlooked such an outstanding person.
“It’s true that your alliance doesn’t include me, but I just want to help you. Can’t I?” As I spoke, I swung my sword up to fend off a player who was about to land a sneak attack on him. I gave the little sneak a kick, causing him to lose his balance, and then drew my blade across his throat. Problem solved, I thought, and before I realized it, a bloodthirsty smile had once again surfaced on my lips.
“Nan Gong Zui.” He offered me his name calmly, but his eyes couldn’t conceal his wonder.
“Prince.” My eyes continued to scan our surroundings alertly, and I kept my guard up against the enemies surrounding us even as I answered.
“The Blood Elf?” Nan Gong Zui could not suppress a soft exclamation.
Huh! It’s that nickname I hate the most again. Am I really that bloodthirsty and terrifying? Am I? I just –
I jumped and, with a flying kick, separated the top half of a player’s head from the rest of his skull.
– tend to use methods that make people slightly mindful of horror movies. Plus, I always like to –
I then split some random player into two with a sideways slash at his waist.
– get myself soaked in blood, and I’m also very polite –
Covered in blood, I smiled at those stunned-looking enemy players standing in front of me.
– and like to smile at people. Just like that, they gave me such a scary nickname. Blood Elf? That’s too unreasonable! No matter what, I’m still just a lovely and delicate young lady!
“Zui, quit zoning out, let’s enjoy the exhilaration of battle together!” I said, laughing heartily at the spaced out-looking Zui.
Nan Gong Zui took a deep breath and said, “The Blood Elf’s reputation isn’t an empty rumor…”
Disgruntled, I retorted, “Call me ‘Prince’.”
A slight smile finally appeared on Nan Gong Zui’s somber face. “All right, Prince.”
“Who is that person?” Fan6, who had originally been standing to one side in a fairly relaxed manner, watched with dissatisfaction as the situation ahead slowly turned around. Who exactly is that elf with the evil aura? To actually be able to turn a completely unfavorable situation around, single-handedly… He’s a threat! An alarm went off in Fan’s mind.
His face, with its serene smile, suddenly grew harsh and murderous. To the members of his alliance standing next to him, he commanded, “Kill that elf; kill him and Nan Gong Zui, and the battle will be as good as over.”
“Damn it, why have the number of enemies suddenly increased?” With this many enemies, I was busy enough just defending myself.
It seems like most of the members of the holyman warrior’s alliance are specifically attacking me and Zui? I glanced over my shoulder and saw Zui similarly engaged in parrying and blocking.
“Prince, retreat to the rear with me,” Zui roared, before hauling me along to where his allies stood. Finally, we stopped in the middle of a crowd of Zui’s allies, and Zui suddenly lifted his sword and leveled it directly at the holyman warrior. “Fan, if you have the guts, then quit hiding and sulking around in the back. Come out and face me in a duel!”
I looked at Zui, who was livid with rage, and then at Fan, the holyman warrior across from us, but the latter’s expression was one of indifference… Don’t tell me they know each other from before? I’m afraid it’s not an ordinary grudge between them either, I speculated.
“Nan Gong Zui, aren’t you too naïve? I’m really curious as to how a person like you, who doesn’t care about the big picture, managed to find yourself so many allies.”
Fan gave him a seemingly peaceable and good-natured smile, but a shiver ran down my spine. I felt as though I had just witnessed Yu Lian-dàsăo’s shadowy smile, or seen the innocent smile Lolidragon had on her face when she was actually sharpening her claws in secret.
This Fan really isn’t a regular character! Yu Lian-dàsăo’s observation was right on the mark.
“You…” Zui’s expression had grown even more infuriated by now, completely losing its earlier calm. “Do you really not give a damn about Ice Phoenix?”
“Ice Phoenix? Who?” The smile on Fan’s face was irritatingly smug, and clearly revealed that he was feigning ignorance.
“You…” Zui clenched his fist and it seemed that he was about to charge at Fan. Those allies of his standing nearby hurriedly grabbed him and refused to let go, but Zui howled maniacally, “Let me go! I’m going to kill that bastard! Fan, get your ass over here!”
It was apparent that the situation was on the verge of going out of control. If it continues like this, Nan Gong Zui will definitely be trashed to kingdom come. I schooled my expression and, with a cold look on my face, reached out and grabbed Nan Gong Zui by the collar. In a cool and distant voice, I said, “I misjudged you. I thought you were the type of person with a passionate heart but a cool head when it comes to doing things. Fan was right; you really are the type of person who doesn’t care about the big picture. No matter what sort of grudge there is between you and Fan, you are the leader of an alliance right now, with the hopes of so many people resting in your hands. And you’re just going to charge out there and get yourself killed?”
Nan Gong Zui slowly relaxed. He shook his head as if to clear his mind and calmed down at last. “You’re right, Prince.”
After that, he hurriedly gathered his alliance together. After a while, they began to resemble an army being mobilized…
They’re really well trained; I’m a bit taken aback. Have I gone and done something foolish now? If Zui manages to defeat Fan easily, how am I going to defeat Zui? Haha… I’ll think about it when the time comes! Although it seems like my teammates in Odd Squad and the members of Dark Emperor are glaring at me from that corner over there…
“Thank you, Prince.” Zui gave me an unaffected smile…
Why do I suddenly feel so guilty?
“Damn it, knew that elf would mess things up,” Fan said, glaring at me with hate-filled eyes. “Doesn’t matter; I won’t lose to him even if it’s just a matter of ability. Everyone, form up, this will end things once and for all.”
I was lost in thought, my head tilted to one side as I walked back to where the members of Odd Squad and Dark Emperor were. As I watched the showdown between the two alliances, I asked, “Lolidragon, this entire business has nothing to do with me right?”
“If this was a chemical reaction, then you are the biggest catalyst in it,” replied Lolidragon helplessly. The two teams, a total of eleven people, had watched helplessly from the sidelines as I incited the entire situation to its climax.
Under my breath I said, “Lolidragon, I’m a literature student, so I don’t understand the chemistry stuff you’re talking about.”
“Do we know who will win?” I asked. Watching the exchange between Zui and Fan’s forces, I thought, they’re probably utilizing some warfare tactics right? Unfortunately, just like the chemical reaction thing that Lolidragon was talking about, I had no knowledge about warfare tactics to speak of, so I had to ask that question.
“In terms of ability, both sides are at about the same level. I think Fan will win, however,” Yu Lian-dàsăo analyzed coolly. “After all, Nan Gong Zui expended too much of his forces when he went up against the beastmen at the start.”
“Really? But I like Nan Gong Zui better.” I tilted my head to one side, feeling a little dissatisfied with the analysis that Zui will lose.
“Then all the more reason for you to pray that Nan Gong Zui will lose, otherwise if he wins, we will have to fight him. If that time comes, will you be able to kill him?” Wicked gave me a stern look.
“I don’t know. I’ll think about it if the time comes,” I replied breezily. Why worry? After all, Yu Lian-dàsăo already said that the odds of Zui winning were smaller.
Once again, Xiao Li’s agitated voice rang out. “Right now the situation is critical, very critical. According to the data, there are finally less than a hundred people left. We can clearly see the showdown between the two alliances, and it as almost like two armies fighting on a battlefield. From the headcount we can see that the number of players left under the command of Nan Gong Zui is less than that of the alliance led by Fan, the holyman warrior. The situation looks very unfavorable for Nan Gong Zui; has the conclusion already been determined? Or will there be a change?
“We can see the Blood Elf – who had slaughtered so many players earlier – and his teammates watching from one side. Will they just keep watching? Or will they join in the fray, changing the situation once more?”
That was the first time I really felt like beating up Xiao Li. Thanks to him, everyone’s attention focused on where we were standing, and even Nan Gong Zui and Fan couldn’t help but look our way. After all, each of their alliances had less than fifty members left. Between our two teams we had twelve players, and if we chose to join a particular faction, it was very likely that we would be able to help that side to attain victory.
“Prince, help me,” Zui yelled at me across the empty expanse between us.
My expression became troubled. I knew full well that this wasn’t the time for us to intervene, and that we should wait until both of their factions were heavily injured and weakened from fighting one another. That would be the opportune moment for our two teams to get in there and clean up those who remained. Thus, I only looked helplessly at Zui, my new friend.
“Haha, you really are still naïve, Nan Gong Zui. Did you think he really wanted to help you?” Fan said with a malicious grin on his face.
“He was just worried that we might not be able to perish together in mutual destruction, so he came to intervene. You really thought he did it for the sake of your so-called ‘friendship’? I must say, though, I really have to hand it to them. Their grasp of the concept behind the saying ‘the clam and the crane quarrel, the fisherman prevails’ surpasses even my own, and they’re even sneakier bastards than I am,” Fan said spitefully.
Zui looked at me silently, his disappointment clear in his gaze. At long last, he turned away coldly and did not look at me again.
I was filled with guilt and more importantly, the sorrow of losing a newfound friend. Which is more important, victory or friendship?
“Victory is for but a fleeting moment, while friendship is eternal.” It was a difficult decision to make, but just as I was about to turn around and explain to everyone, I suddenly remembered: I was carrying the hopes of all the members of Odd Squad as well.
We’d said that we would create a legend together and win together…
What should I do?
“Prince…” The members of Odd Squad looked at me, as I faced such a difficult decision, with a mix of uncertainty and compassion.
“Go, Prince. I will go with you,” said Wicked as he stepped forward.
We looked at Wicked with astonishment. In addition, I was furious. Even though Wicked is Zhuo-gēge, this is a competition. He cannot help me like this, I thought.
“You saved me and Ming Huang earlier, Prince. Plus, if I go with you, then at least the final fight between Odd Squad and my team will be a fair one, with five against five.” Wicked’s tone was firm.
“What you’re really saying is, the two of us will be dead for sure,” I replied, scratching my head in uncertainty.
“… Meteor Shower.”
All of a sudden, a thunderous roar sounded, and we looked up, startled, as shooting stars rained down from the sky one after another…
Quick, make a wish! Oh, oops, sorry!
I noticed that most of the meteors were landing on the side of Fan’s forces. Of course, with such a large-scale spell, it was impossible for the spell to only hit Fan’s people, so a number of Nan Gong Zui’s people also lost their lives beneath this beautiful spell.
As for who cast it…the only fire-type mage who hasn’t died yet, and who has lots of free time to chant the incantation for a large-scale spell who comes to mind is none other than our noble Yu Lian-dàsăo.
“… Wrath of the Nine Heavens!”7 Even as the meteors continued to rain down, I heard a familiar and irritating voice. Even without using my brain and just using my tiara to think, it was certain that the spell had been cast by the other (lightning-type) mage with lots of time to kill: that pain in the ass kid, Ming Huang.
It was very evident that that damn kid’s objective was very different from Yu Lian-dàsăo’s, however, as he had cast his spell right over the center of the arena, having not spared a single a thought to the safety of my friend Nan Gong Zui. He just wants to be at the center of things, I thought.
“Will we become their common enemy?” I asked. I felt a little worried at the sight of players on both sides scurrying away from the scene of destruction and beams of white light shooting into the skies.
“Hmm, that’s possible, but after being caught in two such large-scale spells, I think there probably isn’t anyone left with more than a third of their health out there to fight us.” Yu Lian-dàsăo watched as fiery rocks and lightning continued to rain down with a smile on her face.
At that moment, I thought, Who gives a damn about Fan? He’s not even half as terrifying as our Yu Lian-dàsăo.
“Nan Gong Zui!” I watched helplessly as Zui was struck by a bolt of lightning and collapsed to the ground, where he lay motionless…
He hasn’t flown away, so he’s probably not dead yet!
Seeing as the spells were almost over, I immediately sprinted forward, dodging left and right in order to evade bolts of lightning. Occasionally I even had to cut down those who dared to block my way, or those people who grabbed my leg and begged for help.
Finally I reached Nan Gong Zui’s side. In a single move, I swept him up into my arms and began sprinting back. The instant I moved away, a last meteor landed on the spot where Nan Gong Zui had been lying a moment before…
“I really don’t know if I should describe Prince as evil or kind. He goes to such lengths to save Nan Gong Zui, and yet along the way hacked a whole bunch of people to death…” Yu Lian-dàsăo murmured.
“He’s not kind and he’s not evil either. He just really cherishes his friends,” said Ugly Wolf, grinning broadly as he watched me carry Nan Gong Zui in my arms and sprint back like mad.
“Huff…huff.” Back at last, I placed Nan Gong Zui on the ground, panting furiously.
“Why save me?” Nan Gong Zui’s expression was cold, but also tinged with stubbornness as he looked at me.
“Because I don’t wish to see a friend die without understanding the situation,” I replied coolly.
I turned to Wolf-dàgē and asked, “Wolf-dàgē, could you please heal him?”
Wolf-dàgē gave me a nod.
I charged onto the battlefield for a second time. This time, I walked up to Fan, who also looked like he was on the verge of collapse. He glared at me non-stop, as though he wanted to skin me alive. I gave him a single punch to the stomach, and then picked him up and carried him back to where Odd Squad stood. “Wolf-dàgē, please heal him as well. I think there’s some grudge between him and Zui that needs to be settled.”
I watched with a sense of satisfaction as Zui and Fan were healed by Wolf-dàgē, and the two men appeared to be preparing for a duel to the death. Then I turned to look at the members of Odd Squad and Dark Emperor, and simply said, “Let’s go. It’s time for us to clean up the field.”
There were still twenty-odd players left on the field. However, there was a confident smile on my face that revealed that I did not even think of these twenty-odd players as opponents for two teams. I gave an experimental swing of my Black Dao and said, “Game, start!”
Once again, Xiao Li was wild with excitement as he said, “Look, everyone! The situation is now truly astonishing as the two teams that have been standing quietly to one side suddenly unleashed two super large-scale spells, Meteor Shower and Wrath of the Nine Heavens. The two groups that had been trying to kill each other are now either dead or dying. The Blood Elf saved Nan Gong Zui in the nick of time, and then hauled Fan away as well. However, now the two have once again gotten to their feet in order to fight one another to the death! Just what exactly is going on?
“Next, let’s see…whoa, whoa, whoa, Odd Squad and Dark Emperor have begun to move! They have only twelve people as opposed to the twenty-odd survivors on the field, but the situation’s totally going their way. It’s a massacre! It’s simply a one-sided massacre; these two teams have three uninjured warriors, two extremely stealthy thieves skilled in assassination, two long distance attackers – an archer and a bard, numerous skeletons, and finally, extremely powerful and deadly mages! This outcome of this tournament is almost determined. What we’re all dying to know is, which of these two teams will manage to clinch victory?”
Even as I dealt with the wounded survivors on the battlefield, I watched the showdown between Zui and Fan. In my heart I thought excitedly, finally I can fight Wicked and see which of us is stronger. Our fight last time was inconclusive, but this time we can settle it for good. Fighting really is an interesting thing.
Wicked finished off the last remaining enemy, and then said, “Prince, will you really battle me and Zui? Won’t you find it difficult to fight us because we’re your friends?”
I turned my head to look at Wicked, leveling the Black Dao I held in hand at him as I said, “Because we are friends, I will fight you fair and square to decide who wins and who loses. I won’t hesitate or hold back, and I hope you won’t hold back either, Wicked. This is a battle, and I enjoy battles. I am standing on the field of the arena right now, in front of so many people. This is my battle, my legend, and no matter how things turn out, I will have no regrets!”
With that, I lifted my dao…
[½ Prince Volume 2 Chapter 7 End]
3 The clam and the crane quarrel; the fisherman prevails: Some Chinese sayings actually originate from stories. This one goes like this: a clam was sunning itself when a crane came by and tried to eat it. The clam snapped its shell shut, and the crane refused to let go of the tender clam meat inside. As a result of the weight, the crane could not fly, and the clam could not move. Neither refused to back down; as a result, both were caught by the fisherman. The saying basically means that if neither will give way, then only others will profit.
5 Preserve a green mountain and one will not have to fear for lack of firewood to burn: This saying means that if you cut down all the trees on a mountain at one go, then you will run out of firewood ultimately. On the other hand, if you only take what you need, then you will never run out. As such, it is prudent to not overdo things and one should always plan ahead. This saying is actually not very appropriate to Prince’s situation, but what he’s trying to say is that he is preserving his life so that he can live to fight another time – i.e. this is strategy!
7 Wrath of the Nine Heavens: This was originally translated as Heaven’s Nine Wrath, but after a bit of thought I realized that Wrath of the Nine Heavens is actually more accurate (and in my opinion it sounds a bit better).