½ Prince Volume 3: Records of the Vagabond Prince
Original novel in Chinese by: 御我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 2: Infinite City – translated by Samuki
“Why must I be the liege lord?” I grumbled, malcontented. I don’t even have the foggiest notion of what to do as a liege lord; wouldn’t it be better if the position was given to Wolf-dàgē? Making me the liege lord! I’m not even sure what to do with our new territory. What are we going to do with it, farm?
“Let me ask you, Prince,” said Lolidragon in an interrogative manner as she jabbed a finger at my nose, “Do you know how to devise strategies or command troops like Wolf-dàgē, and so be put in charge of the military department?”
I cocked my head to one side, thinking, Me, handle military matters? I don’t even know what the difference between strategies and tactics is… “I don’t know how to.”
“Or are you by some chance like Yulian-dàsăo, with the talent to manage finances and accounts with incomparable skill, able to use money to generate more money, and so manage the finance department? Are you, in addition, a mage, and so able to take charge of the mages’ department as well?”
“No, I can’t.” It’s already an achievement in itself if I don’t spend all of my money, and besides, I’m not a mage, I thought, feeling sorry for myself.
“Then do you have a brain as good as Gui’s? Are you able to come up with the blueprints for the entire territory and even supervise the entire construction process?”
I went to a corner to be gloomy. “About drawing… People have always said that the dogs I draw looked more like cats.”
“Then do you have my technical knowledge, to be able to lay traps around the territory to prevent monsters or other players from attacking?”
“Not stepping on one of those traps myself, that can already be considered a blessing…” There were now two ghost fires floating next to me.
“Then are you by any chance able to summon skeletons like Doll, to help with the construction?” Lolidragon questioned, dealing me a final blow.
I didn’t expect…that even Doll’s more useful than I am! I want to weep… “If I’m so useless, why do you still want me to be the liege lord?” I pouted, sulking.
Lolidragon gave me a pat on my shoulder, her face the picture of kindness – or was it faux kindness? – as she looked at me. “That’s precisely why we want you to be the liege lord! After all, the only thing you can be is the liege lord, who doesn’t need to do anything except be good-looking, be presentable, and not do anything to damage our territory’s reputation!”
“So that’s how it is! So it’s because I don’t know how to do anything that I can only be the liege lord…” My eyes filled with two large, glistening tears and I whimpered. “I must apply myself to learning some skills from now on, otherwise I’ll never amount to anything more than a liege lord.”
…Is being the liege lord really such a sad thing? wondered the remaining members of Odd Squad.
Backtracking a little, back on that day when Lolidragon used Burrowing to safely sit out the havoc wrought by the two large-scale AOE spells, stomped Feng Wu Qing to death, and then snatched victory back for Odd Squad in the Adventurers’ Tournament, we went onstage happily to claim our prize as a team. We drank in the deafening cheers of the crowd and admired the remarkable sight of the members of Dark Emperor standing stock-still, mouths gaping in shock for an entire hour…until the headaches began.
Of all the prizes, the most significant one was a piece of land, which we were suddenly saddled with for no reason. According to hearsay, it could compare with Sun, Moon, and Star cities in terms of size, and so we had no choice but to start discussing how to manage this piece of trouble…
“This land of ours is really no small burden. Sun, Moon and Star cities are spread out along the fringes of this continent in a triangular formation; as the cities are quite far from one another, and as teleportation fees are expensive, most players will usually opt to make one of the three cities their base camp and then train in its vicinity. Our territory lies right smack in the middle of the entire continent, however, and the amount of time needed to travel from our land to any of the key areas on this continent is pretty much the same.
”As such, if we play our cards right, we’ll definitely be able to lure most of the players away from Sun, Moon, and Star cities and get them to settle down here. However, for the same reason there will be many people eyeing this piece of land…and that will probably be much scarier than an attack by mobs,” Lolidragon mused, frowning. “Although the developers have provided us with NPC guards for the moment, once the time’s up, they will be removed, after which we will have to defend the city on our own. While we can hire NPC guards, they’re overly expensive and, after all, they’re not human players. They lack adaptability and thus cannot be the main pillar of our defense. We must organize our own defense force, create a vibrant economy, and design our city well…”
That was how we began to divide the work among us… And, as you can see, because there’s nothing special about me except my good looks, I ended up as an ornament – the liege lord!
“Although the liege lord is supposedly nothing more than an ornament, Prince, I have an assignment for you, to keep you from dying of boredom.” Wolf-dàgē cleared his throat. “We have a serious shortage of manpower, so you have to recruit some help.”
“Who am I going to recruit…?” My fan club? You’ve got to be kidding me!
“Rose Team.” Lolidragon said as she tapped her chin with a finger thoughtfully. Upon seeing me flinch, she hurried to add, “Even though there was some unhappiness the last time we met, they’re good people. I don’t think they really felt that what happened was your fault. Besides, there are quite a few talented individuals in Rose Team.”
“The big brothers and sisters from Dark Emperor too!” Doll exclaimed delighted. “They’re all good people!”
“Nan Gong Zui!” Yulian-dàsăo added, even as Gui’s face hardened upon hearing that name. (His objections were overruled, however.) “To have been one of the head honchos of the three major alliances in the tournament, he must have considerable influence. If you can get him to join us, Prince, our force’s numbers will be greatly bolstered.”
“That’s right, it’s basically these people for now,” Wolf-dàgē said with a nod. “While we’re pouring our sweat and blood into constructing the city, Prince you should make use of the time to chat with them and do some networking, and then get them to join us while you’re at it. Oh, by the way, it’ll be great if you can find other talented individuals as well. What do you think? Isn’t your assignment quite simple?”
Biting my index finger, with my head tilted to one side, I thought, It seems to be…quite easy?!
“Okay, then I’ll get going. It’ll be tough on you guys!” I felt a little guilty. Everyone else will be working hard on construction, whereas I’m running off to chit-chat… Sigh! It’s all because I don’t know how to do anything, that’s why I’m so useless.
Everyone waved cheerfully at me as I left. I too waved back at them enthusiastically, and then embarked on my “chatting” journey…
It was not until they could no longer see Prince that the smiles, which had been plastered on the faces of the remaining Odd Squad members, finally came off.
“Hmm… I feel a little guilty. We’ve tricked Prince into carrying the toughest job; I wonder if he’ll be okay?” Wolf-dàgē remarked, looking slightly worried.
“Don’t worry about it; that fellow has extremely good luck with people in general. Besides, I don’t have a conscience to speak of, so I don’t feel the least bit guilty,” Lolidragon said with an evil smile.
“Prince is the liege lord after all, so one way or another he has to have a little responsibility!” Yu Lian-dàsăo smiled, stretching her index finger and thumb as far apart as possible as she said “a little”.
In a troubled tone, Gui asked, “But will Prince lose his way?”
…That is the most worrying question indeed!
“Who should I look for first?” I agonized. “Oh well, I guess I’ll look for Dark Emperor first; since Zhuo-gēge is there, it shouldn’t be that difficult to recruit them, right?!”
I made up my mind and immediately PMed Wicked, saying, “Wicked, where are you guys? There’s something I’d like to talk over with you all!”
“…We’re in Star City, but it’s better if you don’t come over now.” Upon receiving her message, Wicked was initially delighted at the prospect of being able to see Xiao Lan. However, after he took one long look at his drunken teammates sprawled about in the restaurant booth and thought of how they had been talking about hacking the members of Odd Squad into a million pieces just a moment ago while drinking, Wicked thought the better of letting Xiao Lan come over. “What’s up?”
“I want to rope you guys into managing the territory!” I went straight to the point.
“Hmm… I’ll talk things over with my teammates, but they’re too angry to think straight right now, so it’ll be better if you don’t come over first.”
“Oh, then I guess I’ll look for Nan Gong Zui first,” I replied, even as I thought, Rose Team… I guess I’ll look for them last. I still felt a little guilty about what happened, so I wasn’t ready to meet them yet.
Unbeknownst to Prince, Wicked’s eyes narrowed dangerously. “You’re going to look for Nan Gong Zui?! That fellow Gui actually didn’t try to stop you?”
“Yeah, he did. I have no idea why he was objecting, but after Lolidragon got him in a chokehold, he didn’t object anymore.” (Or perhaps it was because he had no way to voice his objections?) Seriously, Gui gets jealous over just about anything. Are all gays this troublesome? He gets agitated if anyone approaches me, never mind whether they’re male or female… He’s such a poor thing!
“Don’t look for Nan Gong Zui! I guarantee you that Dark Emperor will join you guys!” Wicked looked menacingly at his teammates on the floor; woe betide any naysayers!
“I knew you’re the best, Zhuo-gēge! It’s a done deal then; you have to join us!” I said happily, thinking, One team down already, looks like I’ll be back with my Odd Squad teammates in no time! “I’ll go look for Nan Gong Zui now then.”
I closed my private channel with Wicked and PMed Nan Gong Zui for the first time ever. “Nan Gong Zui, paging for Nan Gong Zui!”
“Who is it?”
“Prince,” I reported my name cheerfully.
“…The Blood Elf?” Nan Gong Zui sounded somewhat startled.
“Just call me Prince.” Why does Nan Gong Zui like calling me “the Blood Elf” so much?
“Oh, Prince. Is something the matter?” Nan Gong Zui asked enthusiastically. “Looking for me to go drinking together?”
“Erm…something like that, and there’s some other stuff I want to discuss with you.”
“No problem; come over first! I’m in Moon City, just let me know before you arrive,” Nan Gong Zui replied, and his voice became tinged with frustration. “I still have to settle that problem with my godsister Ice Phoenix first.”
“Sure. It might take me a few days to reach, as I’m still pretty far from Moon City, so take your time to settle things,” I replied.
So, my destination is Moon City? I unfolded the map and saw that Moon City was on the west side of the continent. Which way is west? I looked blankly at the huge moon and the sky full of stars, thinking, Gui told me before that if I can find the North Star, I’ll be able to tell which way’s north…but what did he say about finding the North Star again? First I have to locate the Big Dipper…but what is the Big Dipper? My head slumped to one side, uncomprehending. (Gui: I couldn’t get you to understand in the end, but didn’t I give you a compass?)
“Phoenix, do you mean to infuriate me to death?” Nan Gong Zui was on the verge of exploding with anger as he looked at his godsister. “Fan is clearly deceiving you; can you still not see that? Why did you foolishly send him yet another present?”
Ice Phoenix smiled sorrowfully. “Dàgē, is it really so wrong to love a person, to want to make sacrifices for his sake, to want to dedicate yourself to him? I believe that his heart will be truly moved by me one day.”
“You, you…!” Nan Gong Zui gave an exasperated sigh as he wondered, How is it that women can be this foolish?
“I have loved Fan deeply since the moment I first laid eyes on him,” Phoenix said. There was an intoxicated expression on her face as she recollected, “He is just like a perfect god. Back then, when he walked towards me, I even thought that I was looking at the most handsome Sun God, Apollo! I believe that there is no other person in the world who can rival his perfection.”
Goose pimples broke out all over Nan Gong Zui’s body. Fan certainly is quite good-looking… I wonder, between him and Prince, which one of them would Phoenix prefer?
“Ah… Fan’s PMing me, I’ve got to hurry over,” Phoenix said, almost beside herself with joy upon receiving Fan’s message.
“I forbid you to go—” Before he could finish speaking, his godsister was already gone, and so Nan gong Zui had no choice but to hurriedly chase after his godsister’s disappearing figure.
In the end, I still took the wrong path. I inadvertently walked to the East instead, and thus wound up in Star City…after which I chose to simply travel to Moon City via the teleportation station. As it turns out, Moon City was actually a Chinese-styled city. As I wandered through the city, I happily admired the bamboo buildings, red lanterns, and the streets full of fan-waving swordsmen.
Talk about how the culture of a city influences the character of the people living in it… That’s odd, why did my brother, that Chu Liu Xiang-wannabe, end up in Star City instead? I mused as I gnawed on a stick of candied haws that I had just bought.
“Stop right there, Phoenix!” Nan Gong Zui grabbed Phoenix’s hand angrily.
“Let go of me, Dàgē; let me look for Fan!” Phoenix wailed.
I chewed another candied haw as I watched the scene unfold before my eyes, thinking, Looks like my luck’s pretty good; I found Nan Gong Zui without even having to PM him!
Fan sauntered over slowly towards the duo from the other end of the street with a smile on his face. “Nan Gong Zui, don’t you think that your behavior’s rather unsightly? You couldn’t win your godsister’s heart, so you’re resorting to brute force now?”
“What did you say? Don’t spout nonsense, I just don’t want her to be deceived by a bastard like you,” Nan Gong Zui roared, enraged.
“Nan Gong Zui, you should be more careful about what you’re saying. Who’s deceiving her? Phoenix, have I ever tried to deceive you?” Fan asked, and his expression was one of confidence. “I made everything clear to you, including the fact that you’re only one of the women I’m seeing.”
“I know. It’s okay, I don’t mind at all,” Phoenix replied, mesmerized by Fan’s handsome side profile.
Fan shrugged and gave Nan Gong Zui a helpless look.
“You…” Nan Gong Zui was so furious that he had drawn his sword and was about to charge forward and duel Fan.
Terrified for her beloved, Phoenix hurried forward to bar Nan Gong Zui’s path. “Stop it, Gēge! I won’t allow you to harm Fan!”
Nan Gong Zui’s expression revealed how wounded he was by her action. “Phoenix, you…”
“Dàgē, I…” Phoenix was wracked with guilt, but also unwilling to budge.
The atmosphere grew heavy as the situation stalemated. I swallowed the last candied haw, licked my lips, and tossed the remaining bamboo skewer into the trash bin.
…An infatuated woman, a worried brother, and a heartless and dissolute playboy; this is quite the detestable soap opera. Allow me to break up this meaningless drama! I thought with a devilish smirk.
I straightened my posture, affixed a slight smile to my face, elegance oozing from every pore. Right now I am…the most perfect Lord Prince! In a low and warm voice, I said, “Nan Gong Zui, is that you?”
All those present turned to gaze at me – or more accurately, stared at me, blushing fiercely, their hearts thumping furiously – and I saw with satisfaction that even Ice Phoenix was looking at me infatuatedly. With elegant steps, I walked up to Nan Gong Zui, remarking, “My apologies, I arrived early. I’d meant to take a look around first and then pay you a visit. I hope it’s not too much trouble?”
“It’s not…” Nan Gong Zui looked at me with uncertainty. In his head, Nan Gong Zui was thinking, The Prince here today seems…quite different from before?
“Hmm, this lady here… She must be your godsister, Ice Phoenix, correct?” I turned towards the stunned-looking Phoenix and flashed my most brilliant and peerless smile – one which could mesmerize both women and men – at her. “Nan Gong Zui often mentions you!”
“Re- really?” Phoenix stammered as she stared fixedly at my face, enraptured.
“You’re just as adorable as he described!” Inching my face closer and closer towards her as I spoke, I could almost hear her heart as it thumped wildly in her chest. Finally I took her hand lightly in mine, raised it to my lips, and brushed the back of her hand with a kiss.
Phoenix breathed in sharply, and then actually fainted… Now I know that I’m hot enough to make people faint, I thought, as I carried the unconscious girl in my arms, mildly exasperated. “Nan Gong Zui, come and claim your sister!”
“…” Nan Gong Zui came over and took Ice Phoenix from me wordlessly.
“It’s you again, Prince!” Fan snarled. The mask of serenity that he had been wearing was starting to crumble away.
I grinned maliciously at him. “What? You wanted to see me that badly?”
“Who would want to see you?” Fan’s face had become twisted with hatred.
“Aiyah! Still trying to act tough?” I walked up to Fan with slow, deliberate steps, not forgetting to give him an ambiguous smile. “If you wanted to see me you just have to say so. I guarantee you that I’ll look you up whenever I’m free.”
“Get away from me,” Fan said, backing up three paces, and he even remembered to draw his sword and point it at me.
I laughed coldly. Placing my hands on my hip in a show of magnificent unconcern, I said, “You sure you want to fight me?”
Hearing that, Fan hesitated. He hadn’t forgotten the Blood Elf’s prowess on the battlefield, but there was no way for him to back out when his own reputation was at stake, and so his sword remained leveled at me unwaveringly.
My expression changed, growing severe within an instant. “Don’t ever come near Ice Phoenix again. You should know that from this day on, her heart no longer belongs to you.”
Fan’s face became almost mottled with rage, and he laughed mockingly before saying, “Blood Elf, aren’t you a little too nosy? What happens between Phoenix and I is really none of your business.”
“Hmph, Nan Gong Zui is my friend, his sister is my sister, so how can I stand by idly and watch as Phoenix gets played by a beast like you?” I drew my Black Dao and watched with considerable satisfaction as Fan paled, which made me decide to challenge him further. “If you want to fight, cut the crap and come at me!”
Fan looked at me with a sick expression, and then deliberately glanced at Nan Gong Zui, who was standing nearby. “Planning to fight me two on one, is it?”
I replied coldly, “Quit looking for excuses, you know very well that Nan Gong Zui won’t interfere.”
“That’s hard to say!” Fan retorted nastily, sheathing his sword. “I’ve no interest in being ganged up on by two people!”
I said no more and only looked coldly at Fan. After all, I didn’t really intend to fight him here on the streets, especially not for a reason like competing for a woman’s heart…
Fan shot me an icy look before he turned to leave. “One day, I will exact from you everything you owe me, Blood Elf.”
I lifted an eyebrow. “I’ll be waiting.”
Sigh, this visit to Nan Gong Zui has left me with yet another beauty for a suitor and earned me the enmity of a formidable rival… If he still refuses to join us, even if he’s a friend, I will definitely turn him into mincemeat. With that thought, I turned to look at Nan Gong Zui menacingly, but he continued to look at me with innocent confusion.
“Nan Gong Zui, are you going to join me or not?” I demanded, grabbing his collar.
In Nan Gong Zui’s house…
“I see, so it’s about the territory you won!” Nan Gong Zui smiled. “Have you decided on the name for your city yet?”
I was taking a long sip of my bubble tea, but I immediately froze upon hearing Zui’s question. “My city’s…name?”
“What? You guys haven’t decided on it yet?” Nan Gong Zui’s astonishment was evident.
I cocked my head to one side, thinking, Maybe they have already decided on it but forgot to tell me? “Wait a minute, let me ask them.”
“Wolf-dàgē, does our city have a name yet?”
“…Oh no, we clean forgot about that. Prince, since you’re the liege lord, you think of one!” was Wolf-dàgē’s irresponsible reply. “After you’ve come up with a name, you might as well go and register it with the Office of Land Development in the city. That’s all.”
Why is it like this… I frowned. “They asked me to think of name myself! Nan Gong Zui, help me come up with a name.”
“…This kind of heavy responsibility is best left to you, the liege lord!”
I thought and thought, turning my head inside out and back again as I racked my brain for an idea, any idea…but I collapsed on the floor in tears in the end. Uwaaah, I just can’t think of anything! I turned my tearful gaze to Nan Gong Zui in a silent plea…
“…Why not call it Infinite City, to represent the limitless potential of the future?” Nan Gong Zui pronounced after mulling over it briefly.
“Excellent name!” I dashed up to Nan Gong Zui and clasped his hands. Looking at him with gratitude-filled eyes, I said cajolingly, “Since you’ve already helped with the founding of Infinite City, you can’t run away now! You have to join us, okay? Please, Zuiiiiii…”
“…I think we should be able to join you guys. I’ve no problem with it, and our team’s Phoenix is definitely going to follow you, which means that her older sister will too. Her sister’s husband is our team’s priest, and his younger brother is our team’s thief, and the remaining person in the team will probably come along as well.”
“…It’s agreed then, I- I have other people to look for still, so I’ll leave it to you to meet up with my teammates in Infinite City.” The smile on my face had stiffened. What Zui just said…did he mean that if I don’t take responsibility for Phoenix, her sister and two brothers-in-law will definitely hunt me down? Sigh, how am I going to survive in the future? I considered getting Gui to design a secret room for me to hide in.
“Sure! No problem at all.”
“Thanks, Zui,” I smiled cheerfully, thinking, That’s another assignment completed!
Nan Gong Zui gave me a friendly knock on my chest and said, “Don’t sweat it, what are friends for! Come on, let’s go register your city’s name and then go for a drink.”
I smiled foolishly… Will I actually be able hold my liquor?
“This is the only thief in my group, Kong Kong,” Nan Gong Zui introduced the drinking companion that he’d invited along, the petite thief Kong Kong.
“Hello, I’m Prince,” I introduced myself politely.
“Don’t be fooled by how thin and small Kong Kong is; he can handle even a thousand drinks. You should watch out, Prince,” Nan Gong Zui said with a hearty laugh.
I joined in and laughed heartily as well…but inwardly I felt really helpless! I’ve never gone drinking before and I’ll be in a drinking competition with two men the first time I go drinking? Dear heavens! Isn’t that asking a little too much from me? Waaah… I don’t care anymore! It’s not my problem no matter how things pan out!
“Let us first toast to Prince for successfully clinching victory! Cheers!” Nan Gong Zui yelled.
“Cheers!” Kong Kong too, lifted his cup and yelled.
“Cheers!” I could only follow their lead. I stared at the liquid in my cup for three seconds, gritted my teeth, and then gulped down the contents of my cup… It burns! I fought to hold back the tears. Don’t tell me I’m going to have to guzzle down a whole lot more of this in a moment? It can’t be, right? I want to cry…
After three hours…
“Another round!” I bellowed, swaying unsteadily as I held up my cup.
“Urgh… I can’t, Prince. You’re just too strong, let’s stop drinking…” Kong Kong groaned from where he sat, half-sprawled out on the table. “If we keep drinking, I’ll really die…”
“Hahahahaha, you can’t out-drink me!” I laughed wildly, but my body was swaying uncontrollably. “And you still say you can handle a thousand, a thousand drinks?!”
“That’s because you, you won’t collapse even after ten thousand drinks, Prince.” Zui, who had passed out earlier, suddenly woke up and said. He massaged his temples. “Let’s stop drinking and go back!”
“Okay…” I replied, feeling a little sullen.
The three of us staggered along the moonlight-flooded street. A faint feeling of melancholy wrapped about my heart and I suddenly felt the urge to draw my weapon and vent my feelings. Without sparing another thought, I drew my Black Dao and, like a person possessed, I swung and hacked and slashed, leaping and dodging furiously, roaring…until I was too exhausted to continue my rampage. I stood still, panting, all the moves that I’d executed up until now in the game flashing through my mind.
Eventually, I began to dance, the techniques melding together into a seamless flow, a dance. Bathed in the clear, icy moonlight, hearing only the delightful sound of my Black Dao whistling through the air, I felt euphoric and a smile crept onto my face, growing wider and wider. The moonlight, the blade, the slender, flitting figure, and the arrogant yet refined laugh – which only an elf could be capable of – wove together into an achingly beautiful melody which echoed throughout the rustic Moon City.
“Hahahaha…haha!” I laughed wildly.
“Excellent! An excellently proud swordsman,” Nan Gong Zui roared approvingly. “Let’s test how good you are, Prince!” With that, he drew his sword and leapt in front of me. Our blades met with a resounding clang, like a song of steel crashing down on the silence of the night.
“Here I come as well!” Kong Kong couldn’t resist drawing his dagger and joining the fray, swift as a wind.
I aimed a kick at Kong Kong even as my dao continued to fend off Nan Gong Zui’s sword, and then followed up with a twist in mid-air, evading their combined attack. The three of us were like children fooling about on the street, dodging here and darting there, striking out at one another with our weapons from time to time. We fooled about in this fashion and had a whale of a time…until we reached Nan Gong Zui’s place.
After waving goodbye to Zui, I looked up at the star-studded sky, suddenly filled with the desire to explore the ends of the earth! And so my legs carried me toward an unknown street…
[½ Prince Volume 3 Chapter 2 End]