½ Prince Volume 3: Records of the Vagabond Prince
Original novel in Chinese by: 御我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 4: Jing and Yun – translated by Eilinel
As soon as I opened my eyes, I couldn’t help but exclaim admiringly, “Such a blue sky!”
I lay there lazily for a while, marveling at the sky blue expanse before my eyes. When I stood up reluctantly at long last, I peered around at my surroundings and bit my index finger, puzzled. “Where on earth is this place?”
Wow, there are seagulls here! Pleasantly surprised, I watched as an entire flock of seagulls flew by… Eh? Is that a sail? I’ve never seen such a large sail before… This thing underneath my feet, I think it’s called a “deck”?
I walked up dazedly to the ship’s railing and gazed into the distance.
What a blue sea, and there’s a salty-tasting sea wind blowing this way. Hoho, it’s so comfortable, I thought, grinning foolishly for a full ten seconds, and then realization hit me… Wait a moment! I looked left and then right. My god! It’s a blue ocean as far as the eye can see. Where has my beloved land disappeared to? Why am I on a ship? Where am I heading to?
Don’t panic, don’t panic! I tried to calm down. There must be some reason as to why I am here.
I attempted to recall what had happened. I remember that I was drinking with Nan Gong Zui and Kong Kong; the liquor burned as it went down my throat and was very hard to drink…and then? I held my head in my hands and thought as hard as I could, but simply couldn’t remember a thing. Just what exactly happened after that?
Suddenly, I spied someone from the corner of my eye. I rushed over and seized him by the arm. “Excuse me, big brother, but could you tell me where this ship is heading to, please?” I asked worriedly.
“This ship is the Star of the Ocean, which sails from the Central Continent to the Eastern Continent. Didn’t you know that?” The man, who resembled a sailor, wore a questioning expression on his face as he answered me.
The Eastern Continent? I stared at him blankly. “The Eastern Continent? Since when did Second Life have so many continents?”
“…This world has a total of five continents: the Eastern, Western, Southern, Northern, and Central Continents. This should be common knowledge!” The sailor stared at me as though as I was a freak.
So that’s how it is? “Then where am I from?”
“Judging from the ship’s course, you’re probably from the Central Continent, right?”
I rubbed the back of my head, grinning foolishly. “You’re probably right!” I exclaimed.
“So how can I get back to the Central Continent?” Although sailing on a ship is quite an interesting experience, I’ll definitely get a dressing down from my teammates in Odd Squad if I don’t hurry and look for Rose Team.
“You can take another ship back when you reach the Eastern Continent.”
“How much longer will it be until we reach the Eastern Continent then?”
“Probably another five more days or so! Can’t chat with you anymore; I’ve got work to do.” The sailor walked away, muttering to himself, “What a weirdo; the ship fare is this expensive and yet he wants to return even before he’s reached the Eastern Continent…”
Wait a second!
“Five days, then including the return trip, it’ll be ten days altogether?” I want to cry, it’ll be a miracle if I don’t get scolded to death this time.
I sighed. “I guess I might as well tell my teammates first.”
“Guys, I have something to tell everyone…” Why aren’t they responding?
“Paging Odd Squad, paging Odd Squad…” Still no response from them? That’s impossible! Shouldn’t there be at least someone online at this time? I grew panicked and hastily grabbed the Sailor-dàgē again. “Dàgē, why am I unable to reach my teammates via the messaging system?”
Having been forcibly stopped by me, the sailor asked me exasperatedly, “Where are your teammates?”
“On the Central Continent,” I answered obediently.
“Players on different continents cannot use the PM channel to communicate with one another; this includes the team channel as well. While you’re at sea, you can only PM players who are also on the ship.”
My jaw hung slack with shock. “I’m in deep shit this time.”
There was nothing else that I could do, however, so I simply sat woodenly on board the ship. At first, I could still look at the blue sky and the ocean, but I nearly went mad with boredom eventually. The sailor-dàgē told me that it’s the off season right now, with very few players taking ships, not to mention ships that leave in the small hours before dawn, so I’m the only player on board this ship, waaaaah!
I rolled forward, backward, to the side… I’m so booooored! God! What on earth am I going to do? Even the NPC sailor-dàgē has gone into hiding after being pestered so much by me, so there’s no one around for me to talk to. I buried my head between my knees plaintively, my eyes red with incipient tears. “Waaah, Lolidragon, Wolf-dàgē, Gui, Doll, and Yu Lian-dàsăo, I miss you all so much, waaah!” I’d realized only now how lonely I was without the rest of Odd Squad around.
“Mama, why cry-cry?” A child-like voice came from my pouch.
I froze for a moment, and then quickly opened my pouch. “MEATBUUUUUN!”
I took Meatbun out and hugged it tightly, showering it with kisses, pinches, and cuddles. “I forgot that I still have you.”
“Mama, Meatbun-bun feels pain-pain!” My hand had gone on a rampage, pinching Meatbun all over and causing the latter’s bun skin to turn red. Just like before, Meatbun – which was afraid of pain – began to cry, with mega-huge teardrops falling from its eyes.
Erk! Shit. I hastened to console Meatbun in a kindly manner. It wasn’t very effective, however, and Meatbun still ended up crying like two faucet taps turned on at full blast… Erk! This is really bad, I’m afraid I’m about to be the first player to find out whether NPC ships can sink or not. With Meatbun cupped in my hands, I tilted my head to one side and thought, Hmm, the situation probably won’t be as bad as I thought. At least I know how to swim doggy-style.
“Although our liege lord is away on business, this city still requires managing, so we’ll just assign each person their position first. If Prince is dissatisfied with the arrangement when he returns, we can reshuffle the positions.” Ugly Wolf looked at all the people below him. Although we don’t know where Prince has run off to, we still have to get everyone settled in first! I only hope that nobody will resent the arrangements. He heaved a sigh at that thought. Really, where on earth has Prince vanished to?
“Let’s do that then,” Nan Gong Zui said calmly.
“As I am unfamiliar with where all of your expertise lies, I will first assign positions to those whose abilities I am familiar with. Team leaders, please inform me if I miss anyone out.” Ugly Wolf began to list out names seriously. “Nan Gong Zui, Broken Sword, Wicked, and I will be in the military department, Yu Lian in the finance department. Gui and Lolidragon will be in the construction department for city planning and military infrastructure – such as laying traps around the city – respectively. Lolidragon will also serve in the foreign affairs department, together with Doll.”
Nan Gong Zui smiled slightly. “I think I can only take charge of training the troops. I usually leave the task of coming up with military policies and battle strategies to White Bird; she is an expert at that.”
Madame White Bird raised her eyebrows and remarked, “A person who can lead troops into battle and a person with the talent to map out strategies and command battles from afar are often not one and the same. I suggest that the military department be further divided into two sections, one for coming up with strategies and another for commanding troops – that is to say, having two different types of positions: generals and military advisors. This will make things clearer for everyone.”
Ugly Wolf considered it for a moment, and then replied, “What you say makes sense; we’ll do it that way then. Nan Gong Zui, Broken Sword, and Wicked shall each be one of the three Generals, while Madame White Bird and I will act as the Left and Right Advisor respectively. Is there any other question regarding the military department?”
Seeing that no one else had any opinions on the matter, Ugly Wolf went on to the next issue. “As for the finance department, I really have no idea who else has expertise in this area aside from Yu Lian from my team, so may I ask if the other teams have experts in this field?”
“My team recommends Rose,” said Broken Sword, and everyone in Rose Team grinned at Rose as he added, “Rose isn’t any ordinary expert in this field; she’s practically the goddess of financial management!”
“I wish to join the finance department. I’m not an ordinary expert at minding money either,” Ice Phoenix said with a confident smile while the members of The Righteous Blades nodded their heads wildly in agreement.
Ugly Wolf nodded his head happily. “That’s great, Yu Lian won’t have to run finance department all by herself then.”
“Next, apart from Gui and Lolidragon who have been assigned to the construction department, I hope that all the thieves can aid Lolidragon in setting up traps. After all, this city is simply too big, and it’ll be impossible to rely on Lolidragon alone for this.” Ugly Wolf looked at the thieves who were present, and both Playboy Lord and Kong Kong nodded.
“Is there anyone here who is familiar with city planning or overseeing the construction process?” Ugly Wolf asked, frowning.
Fairsky pouted for a moment and then answered reluctantly, “I am, but I don’t want to work with him.” She glared at Gui fiercely.
“You should not mix your private affairs with work, Fairsky,” said Broken Sword sternly.
“I’m sorry,” said Fairsky with a stricken look. “Then I shall join the city planning section and do my best to help Gui out.”
“All that’s left is the foreign affairs department then. Is there anyone who wants to help Doll and Lolidragon?” Ugly Wolf asked.
Lolidragon said with a smile, “I recommend Feng Wu Qing.”
Feng Wu Qing retorted, “Hmph. Why should I join the foreign affairs department? Especially if you’re in it.”
“Aiyah, is it possible that the great hero Feng Wu Qing is unable to distinguish his private affairs from work? Does he intend to waste his skill with language and let mold grow on it instead?” Lolidragon asked caustically. “Or is he afraid that his achievements will lose to mine, and so decided that he might as well not join?”
Feng Wu Qing gnashed his teeth with hatred. “Me? Lose to you? I will most certainly join the foreign affairs department, and then you can see for yourself who is the true expert at diplomacy.”
This round, victory goes to Lolidragon! thought all the people present.
“Then we shall follow this arrangement for now!” Ugly Wolf finished up the personnel chart with satisfaction. “Next, we need to discuss the matter of The Righteous Blades. Although the city is currently being protected by the game admin, we will need to shoulder that responsibility on our own soon. As everyone knows, there are countless players eyeing our city for their own, so we must swiftly increase the number of players in our forces and decide on the method to manage them.”
Ugly Wolf looked directly at Nan Gong Zui, meeting his gaze squarely. “I will say it straight. A city cannot have two lieges, and it seems that the entirety of our military defense depends on The Righteous Blades. Nan Gong,1 are you certain that you are willing to let your own group serve Prince, that you are willing to be Prince’s subordinate?”
Nan Gong Zui looked at Ugly Wolf, resolution clear in his eyes, and he said clearly, “If Prince were here, I could kneel down and swear my fealty to him in front of everyone from The Righteous Blades.
“I am not truly a good leader. I have known from the very beginning that I do not possess the aura of true ruler,” Nan Gong Zui explained slowly. “Instead of letting The Righteous Blades remain an ordinary group beneath my leadership, I would much rather find a better leader than me to lead them. And now, I’ve found one.”
“That fellow, Prince… I don’t know why, but I always think that the sight of him smiling gives people a very comfortable sort of feeling,” Broken Sword said with a grin. “I really want to see him standing on the city walls, laughing with that wild, arrogant laugh of his.”
Legolas replied coolly, “Really? I always felt that that fellow, Prince, is something of an idiot…so long as you’re a friend, he will trust you unhesitatingly, and will even be willing to throw his life away for you.” As Legolas finished speaking, however, there was a slight smile on his face.
“His blade dance is a true feast for both the heart and the eyes,” Kong Kong said, shaking his head with an admiring sigh.
Feng Wu Qing said awkwardly, “Although there was some unpleasantness between us earlier, his fighting prowess is really pretty impressive.”
“All right, all right, everyone, please don’t continue singing Prince’s praises anymore. Otherwise, even if he isn’t here, I think his backside will still stick up with conceit,” Lolidragon hurriedly interrupted their praising. Sigh! Her head ached as she thought, If Prince doesn’t show up with an image that lives up to their expectations when he returns, there will be big trouble.
Ugly Wolf too didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. “Anyway, let’s get the development of Infinite City well under way before Prince comes back.”
“No problem!” They were all filled with confidence, ready to prove themselves in front of their proud, mighty, and steadfast liege lord…
I knelt on all fours on the floor, scrubbing, scrubbing, and scrubbing the floor. Uwaaaaaaah….
“How was I supposed to know that the ticket for the ship would be so expensive, actually costing five thousand crystal and three gold coins? I only had five thousand crystal, three gold, and ten copper coins, how was I to know that I wouldn’t have enough for dinner? Actually making me, the only player on this ship, scrub the floor as payment, they’re simply too heartless,” I muttered to myself as I scrubbed the floor. “Sigh, Meatbun, why is it that you don’t have arms? Otherwise you could be helping me with scrubbing the floor.”
Meatbun, which had been sitting obediently on top of my head from since the beginning, could not understand what I was muttering about at all, and so could only keep making the same reply, saying, “Yes, Mama.”
I scrubbed, I scrubbed… Wait a second. No money? The return ticket has to be purchased right? This. Is. BAD!
My body turned weak as jelly. Five thousand crystal coins! That’s the amount that I’ve saved up from the time I started playing the game until now. I did give some of my money to the team, but it’ll still take a lot of time to earn five thousand crystal coins… What am I to do? Then that basically means that I won’t be able to go back for a very long time. Plus, I can’t message my friends; they’ll probably be worried about me.
“Hey, we’ve arrived at the Eastern Continent,” Sailor-dàgē shouted.
I looked at Sailor-dàgē dazedly. “Dàgē, is there any other way to obtain a ship ticket other than by buying it?”
Dazedly, I was shooed off the ship. Dazedly, I stood in the unfamiliar port. Only the smitten gazes directed my way were familiar. Looks like this face of mine is also pretty popular here on the Eastern Continent; don’t tell me I should sell my body to earn money?
“Gururu…” growled my stomach. I’m so hungry. I want to eat, I thought. Hugging my stomach, I remembered that I didn’t have a single copper coin on me and immediately my entire body went weak as jelly again… Looks like I’ll starve to death before even getting around to selling my body for money!
Unable to endure the insistent grumbling of my stomach any longer, I made up my mind. “Time to go hunting!” I exclaimed, but…which way is it to the forest…?
After a moment’s thought, I figured that any place that has trees should be a forest. By then I was so hungry that I had almost become a corpse, so it was with impatience that I rushed towards the forest. As expected, there I found my adorable little wolves…
“Meatbun, I don’t have meat buns for you to eat right now, so just try and eat some wolf meat!” I stuffed wolf meat down Meatbun’s tiny mouth even as I greedily devoured some myself.
Tears welled up in Meatbun’s eyes as it reluctantly chewed the wolf meat. “Tastes bad, Mama.”
“Really? I think it’s delicious!” Anything will taste good when you on the verge of starving to death, I thought. I swallowed the last piece of the tough wolf meat contentedly and then lay down on the grass on the lake bank, rubbing my stomach comfortably.
How on earth am I going to contact my teammates? I felt troubled. It’s a pity that Lolidragon isn’t here to answer my questions; only now do I realize that she’s actually very useful… “So I finally have to rely on myself?” I remarked to the air sadly.
I watched the clouds in the skies as they scudded by, feeling somewhat stoned, somewhat lonely, somewhat lost. Closing my eyes, I muttered, “I don’t like the feeling of being separated from everyone else.”
My eyes flew open. I jumped to my feet and roared at the sky, “I WANT TO GO BACK!”
“Are we taking the ship now, Mama?” Meatbun asked happily.
“…Yep, we’ll be able to take the ship once I’ve earned the last of that five thousand crystal coins,” I replied. First, I should go and kill mobs for cash. As for selling my body…we’ll talk about that again when I really have no other choice!
I’ll fight stronger mobs, I thought. That way I’ll earn money faster. I checked the contents of my pouch. Seeing that there were still a few health potions inside, my mind was set at ease and I began to make my way deeper into the forest. As my surroundings grew darker and darker, I cautiously rested my left hand on the hilt of my dao so that I could draw it at a moment’s notice.
There’s movement in the trees! I slowed my footsteps to a halt. Looking at the clearing in front of me, I could see that the silhouettes of a number of monsters. A smile crept onto my face and I drew my Black Dao. Looks like I’ll be able to return to my team soon.
I sundered two mobs with one swipe of my blade and then sheathed my dao. “This is monster number…?”
“This is the five hundred and fifth one,” Meatbun answered dutifully.
I exhaled. “How many gold coins do we have?”
Meatbun turned its white and chubby body around and, with some effort, burrowed into the pouch. After a while, that white and chubby body wriggled out. “One hundred and thirty five gold coin-coin, Mama.”
“Hmm, I’ve gotten used to the types of mobs they have here on the Eastern Continent, plus I also have enough money to buy health potions and mana potions, so I should be able to venture further in.” I looked at the precipitous valley in the distance and wondered, Should I go there to look for higher level mobs? Higher level mobs have a higher chance of dropping rare items. If I can get several rare items, I might even be able to head back immediately.
“Right! Get ready, Meatbun. After you use Aroma Release, we might encounter a boss!” I was in high spirits.
“Meatbun-bun is ready!” Meatbun’s tiny face was filled with childlike determination. It’s so adorable!
After I placed Meatbun on top of my head, I began to make my way towards the unknown valley. As I walked, my surroundings grew darker, and there would be gusts of chilly, sinister wind from time to time… So cold, I thought. My teeth were chattering and I had no choice but to dig out a long-disused cloak from my pouch and put it on. When I felt warmer, I resumed walking toward my destination.
“Heeelp…” There suddenly came a cry for help. I froze for a moment and then began sprinting over to rescue that person.
When I arrived on the scene, I saw a girl being chased by around five or six Flaming Skeletons…. Odd, why does this scene look kind of familiar? I stopped to think. Don’t tell me this is yet another necromancer who’s been frightened by her own skeletal minions?
“Hang in there, Jing! I’ll save you once I drink some potions.” The male voice came from behind the girl.
The girl wailed, “Hurry up, Yun, I’m going to die!”
Jing? Yun? Why do these two names sound kind of familiar? I sank back into my thoughts once again…
Just then, the girl seemed to have caught sight of me. “Help, please help us kill these skeletons!” she cried.
That face belongs to Lü Jing…my best friend in real life— My god, Yun? Don’t tell me it’s Gu Yun Fei? I lifted my head to look at the guy behind her. No mistake about it! It really is Yun, I thought, rooted to the spot with astonishment. So Jing and Yun were on the Eastern Continent, and we met here by sheer coincidence; looks like my “good fortune” is not the run-of-the-mill sort.
“I beg you, could you save me, please?” Jing’s eyes were glistening with unshed tears as she rushed towards me like a damsel in distress.
“Oh…” I replied somewhat dazedly. I grabbed Jing and pulled her behind me. Drawing Black Dao, I ducked and with a low slash, hacked both feet off a skeleton. Against the next one, I simply sundered it into two, and then separated the first skeleton’s skull from its body with a reverse slash… Against mobs like Flaming Skeletons, I’ve long since been drilled by Doll to the point where I’m practically fighting out of reflex, and can make short work of a single skeleton. Before Yun even arrived at a run to help out, I had already dispatched the five Flaming Skeletons with great ease.
“Holy…you’re really strong,” Yun said, gaping at me.
Should I say something in reply? Will they figure out that I’m Feng Lan? I felt a little hesitant.
“You really are extremely strong, unlike the two of us, who are really weak…” There was a sorrowful look on Jing’s face, and she even heaved a sigh.
You can save that act of fragility – which you use to lead people to their deaths with no intention of paying with your own life – for someone else, Jing! Against me, your best friend Feng Lan, that move is completely ineffective!
I chuckled to myself inwardly. About my best friend, Jing, I know her too well. Jing may look like a delicate, pitiful Lin Dai Yu2 on the surface, but…in reality, she’s actually a peerless Taekwondo expert.
Yun too, sighed softly. “It’s entirely my fault. I can’t even protect you as a friend because my level’s too low.”
“Don’t say that, Yun. I’m already very grateful that you’re willing to help me level,” Jing said, looking at Yun with “gratitude”. “Sigh, I really wish that an expert player would be willing to help us with our training.”
“It is unfortunate, but how could it be possible that an expert player would be willing to help total strangers like us?” Yun said with a downcast expression.
Once again Jing looked at me bashfully. “We are most grateful to you for saving our lives, Expert-dàgē. I am called Lü Jing, and this is my friend Yun Fei. May we ask Dàgē for his name?”
I could feel a tingling sensation in my scalp as I was being cajoled by Jing. Whenever Jing cajoles somebody, that person will inevitably suffer an unspeakably horrible fate.
After I failed to reply for a while, Jing’s eyes misted with tears. “Could it be that Dàgē is unwilling to tell even his name to Jing?”
What should I do? I thought, panicked. Should I tell them that I’m Prince? But Yun seems to know a lot about Prince; he probably found out that Prince is on the Central Continent before I did. How will I explain to them the reason for my appearance on the Eastern Continent, especially when I don’t even know the reason myself?!
“Jing, since Dàgē is unwilling to tell us his name, it’s clear that he has no interest in small fries like us, so let’s not make things difficult for Dàgē anymore,” said Yun indignantly.
Then quit calling me “Dàgē”… I thought, exasperated.
“But… Sigh! I thought we’ve finally found a Dàgē who is a powerful fighter, a man of his words, and a righteous person, and then Dàgē and I will…” The blush which had mantled Jing’s cheeks and the worshipful expression on her face suddenly gave way to incomparable disappointment, and her voice sounded choked. “Since… Since Dàgē looks down on Jing so, then…then…”
“Don’t be disappointed, Jing. I’m sure that Dàgē didn’t mean ill. It must be that he has something pressing to attend to, otherwise how could he possibly bear to leave us behind…especially such an adorable beauty like you!” consoled Yun. Next to him, Jing continued to maintain her pose as a delicate and weak young woman.
*Sweat* I finally understand what they’re trying to achieve, I thought. So they’re trying to use Jing’s beauty to lure this “Expert-dàgē” into training the two of them!
As we are best friends, in principle, I should help them in their training. However, I’m in a rather unusual situation right now. Not only am I worried that they’ll find out that I’m Feng Lan, I’m also worried that they’ll figure out that I’m Prince. How am I supposed to help them in such a situation? I heaved a helpless sigh.
“Why do you sigh, Dàgē?” Jing asked, concern in her voice.
I looked into Jing’s eyes, which were filled with concern, and thought, Although I really can’t tell if she’s truly concerned about me or just faking it, I still feel a little moved… Oh forget it; I’ll just help them out! After all, I’ve not shown them any concern ever since we started playing Second Life, and they’ve never complained either. If I continue to refuse to help them, I’m afraid I’ll really have a guilty conscience.
Having made up my mind, I coughed a couple of times. Feigning the attitude of an Expert-dàgē, I said, “Ask not my name, meddle not in my business; follow me as you will!”
Listening intently, I could hear Yun muttering to himself, saying, “Wah… He really is a pro!”
As I walked, I suddenly remembered, How am I supposed to lead them when I still don’t know their classes and levels?
“Your levels? Classes?” I threw the two questions at the two people who were following me closely.
Yun introduced himself enthusiastically, “Dàgē, I am called Yun Fei. I’m level forty-five, and I’m a human Barrier Master.”3
Exorcist? Barrier Master? What sort of classes are those? Why have I never heard of them before? My footsteps slowed to a halt, and scratching my face, I had no choice but to admit my ignorance and ask, “Please explain your classes to me.”
Yun grinned at me as he replied, “Barrier Masters are pretty rare, so Dàgē probably won’t be familiar with the class! As the name suggests, a Barrier Master’s main job is to create barriers. The barriers have a multitude of uses; for instance, the most basic barrier is the Flat Barrier, which can block an attack from beyond. Some barriers can even reflect attacks, such as the Mirror Shot ability. Alternatively, I can create a three-dimensional barrier, inflicting all kinds of status conditions on players or mobs inside the barrier. For instance, I can cast Weakness Barrier, which will cause their attacks to deal less damage, or I can use Slow Barrier to cause mobs to move slower.”
I nodded; his class is kind of like Gui’s in the sense that they’re both support classes. “Offensive abilities?”
“Barrier Masters don’t have any offensive abilities,” said Yun, still grinning at me.
No offensive abilities? I felt stunned for a long while. No wonder Yun leveled up so slowly; you can’t train alone if you don’t have offensive abilities! That’s odd, he can’t train by himself? Then Yun must have a team! But I’ve never heard him mention it before… I frowned. “Don’t you need to return to your team?”
“I don’t have a team.” Yun laughed, embarrassed, and explained, “Most players don’t really understand the Barrier Master class. And since they hear that my ability revolves around creating protective barriers, they would rather find themselves a mage. In addition, my level isn’t high, so there are limits to the effectiveness of my barriers, which is why I still haven’t found a team till now.”
No wonder Yun, who is such a training freak, is still only at level forty-five, I realized. I really can’t begin to guess how much time it took him to train all the way to level forty-five. A heavy feeling grew in my chest as soon as I thought of how I, his best friend, never even thought of helping him. It’s time that I do my best to help Yun out, I thought.
“Dàgē should be more familiar with the Exorcist class,” Jing said with a smile. “Exorcists mainly use Fu6 to cast different kinds of spells.”
Exorcist? I thought an exorcist would be using a bell to command zombies… From Jing’s explanation, it doesn’t seem too different from a mage… I continued walking with my head full of questions. However, I knew enough now that I understood that Jing could cast spells and that Yun’s was a support-type class, so I stopped asking them questions, and began to think hard instead. What would be the best type of mob for us to train on? This is bad, I’m not that familiar with the mobs here on the Eastern Continent. Which type of mob exactly should we fight?
All of sudden, Yun’s smile became particularly fawning. “Dàgē, might Xiăodì7 be so bold as to suggest a good place to train?”
I stopped in my tracks. Yun’s suggestion had just solved my dilemma. “Say it.”
“We can train on Lesser Demons. They yield high experience and have high drop rates for treasures. Plus, there are a number of quests involving them. They’re great for leveling, getting gear, and earning money!” Yun said excitedly, and then embarrassment crept across his face. “But a pro player like Dàgē probably has no need for money.”
It might be true that I’m not lacking money, but I’m lacking a ship ticket that costs five thousand crystal coins.
“I really wonder when we will finally have enough money. Why is the ship ticket to the Central Continent so expensive?!” Jing said with a weary sigh.
I was astonished. How does Jing know that I need money for the ship ticket?
Yun and Jing both looked embarrassed. “Dàgē, actually we’re trying to save up enough money to take the ship to the Central Continent. We intend to look for our friends there,” explained Yun.
Ah, so I misunderstood them. Looks like Yun and Jing really plan on going to visit Professor Min Gui Wen and Prince…to visit me?
“There’s no need to go; I’m already here for both of you to see,” I couldn’t resist muttering to myself.
“What?” Jing, who had sharp hearing, asked, puzzled.
I hurriedly cleared my throat. “Nothing.”
“Oh?” Jing shot me a dubious look.
“Let’s go and kill some Lesser Demons then!” I said, hastily changing the topic. “Let’s get the quests first.”
“Okay, Dàgē,” Yun replied me cheerfully, but…as Yun’s best friend, even with the hood of my cloak obstructing my gaze, I can still tell that there’s something wrong with that overly-brilliant smile on his face. I have a bad feeling about this… I’m not going to die by my best friends’ hands, am I?
I stood quietly outside the White Tiger City’s Adventurers’ Guild, waiting for the two people who had brought me to this city to be done with obtaining their quests. Fortunately, there was a huge map of the Eastern Continent hanging outside the Adventurers’ Guild, so I could finally see for myself the geography of the continent currently under my feet. I think it makes no difference if I see the map or not, though, I thought. After all, I can lose my way all the way to Star City when I’m really trying to go to Moon City, so how can I possibly hope that a map alone would allow me to go sightseeing on the Eastern Continent freely?
I raised my head and took a casual look at the map. The Eastern Continent, as the name implies, is a continent to the east of the Central Continent. There are four admin-controlled cities here, and they are located in the four cardinal directions: to the east, Green Dragon; west, White Tiger; south, Red Phoenix; north, Black Tortoise. The continent really has an Eastern feel to it. It’s no wonder even the classes are extremely Eastern as well; even the food is Chinese!
“Dàgē , we’ve obtained the quests,” Yun’s bright voice rang out.
Ehhh! I won’t be able to buy my wontons in chili oil, damn it!
“To thank Dàgē for helping us, will Dàgē allow Yun Fei and Lü Jing to treat him to a meal?” Yun asked, his face shining with sincerity. As for me, of course I would be happy to be treated… Ah, my wontons in chili oil, I’m coming!
Along the way…
“Dàgē, is it alright with you if we dine at Oriental House?”10
“Dàgē, is it really impossible for you to tell us your name? What if we get separated along the way?”
“Dàgē, your cloak is really stylish. I’m guessing that you must have a really fit body as well? Can’t you let Xiăodì have just one glimpse?”
“Dàgē, may Xiăodì be so bold as to ask you what your race is? Since you are such a strong warrior, I think you must be from the human race, right? Or are you a beastman? But you’re not that powerfully-built, so I don’t think you are one.”
“We’ve almost reached Oriental House; has Dàgē eaten at Oriental House before? If you haven’t, then I guess Dàgē’s base camp probably isn’t White Tiger City huh?”
From the beginning till the end of our walk, I hadn’t so much as uttered a word.
“We’ve reached Oriental House, Dàgē,” said Jing, smiling happily as she pointed to a red, traditional building. “The food and wine at this restaurant are all pretty good, especially the wine. Their Clear Tranquility wine in particular is famous in White Tiger City! Dàgē, why don’t you order a few main courses to fill up your stomach first, and then order some light dishes to go with the Clear Tranquility.”
“Right, that’s right, one seldom comes across such a good Dàgē, Xiăodì must have a good drink with Dàgē today,” said Yun, laughing heartily.
Drink? What should I do if I wake up and find myself on the Western Continent the next time?
As soon as I received the menu, I hastily ordered my wontons in chili oil, in addition to a lot of other delicious-sounding food. Finally, I put down the menu reluctantly and waited for my mouthwatering dishes to be served.
“That’s all, and bring us two bottles of Clear Tranquility,” Yun told the waiter.
I watched, with eyes full of anticipation, as the dishes were served one by one. Although I still haven’t seen my adorable wontons in chili oil yet, it’s not a bad idea to tuck into the other dishes first, I thought. My hand rose, the chopsticks plunged, and a fragrant bite of food was delivered into my salivating mouth. It’s a good thing I’m shielded by my cloak, otherwise my “Expert-Dàgē” image would be completely ruined.
Yun picked up my wine cup and began to pour just about the entire huge bottle of Clear Tranquility into my cup. “Dàgē, shall we have a drink first?”
I couldn’t be bothered to answer him. With such delicious food before me, who cares about best friends? I stretched my claws towards the dish of silver thread rolls11 once more…
From the top of my head came the sound of Meatbun’s child-like voice. “Mama, Meatbun-bun wants to eat-eat too.”
Baffled, Jing and Yun peered left and right, searching for the source of the voice. I froze; I’d nearly forgotten about Meatbun’s existence entirely. Looks like Meatbun fell asleep on top of my head, that’s why it was so quiet all this while! I snatched a silver thread roll, snatched Meatbun from my head and placed it on my lap, and then stuffed the entire roll – which was larger than Meatbun – into Meatbun’s mouth. Finally, I stuffed Meatbun back into the pouch. It’s finally quiet, I thought, and heaved a relieved sigh.
Of course, the entire operation was carried out beneath the cover of my cloak. Cloak, oh cloak, you really are an indispensable tool for secretly feeding pets and maintaining one’s image!
“That’s odd, I thought I heard a child’s voice just now?” Jing remarked, frowning.
I lowered my head and engrossed myself with eating upon hearing that.
Seeing me tuck in, Jing and Yun stopped bothering me and picked up their chopsticks to begin eating as well.
“Isn’t this Xiao Jing?” A somewhat irritating voice came floating to my ear. Which person is it who has no eyes to see that he’s bothering me in the middle of my meal? I narrowed my eyes and raised my head to look…
My god, this is such a classic, such a classic fop! He was a little similar to Fan, with all that shining, flashy golden armor, but he had none of Fan’s elegance or divine harshness. What made his appearance still more ridiculous was that jewel-encrusted helmet on his head and that red cloak embroidered with dragons he was wearing. There was only one word to describe him, and that was…vulgar!
It’s my first time seeing someone so vulgar that heaven and earth would be shocked and the demons themselves would weep. I doubt that I’d have such a comical effect even if I were to wear gold bars for clothes! It’s a pity because this person’s looks can still be considered quite handsome, but thanks to that outfit, he just feels intolerably vulgar, sigh! I lowered my head and continued to dig in. If I keep looking at him, I’m afraid my eyesight and taste will both be damaged beyond repair.
There was a sour expression on Jing’s face as she looked at the vulgar dandy. Yun too, was not like his usual self as he continued to eat silently with a frosty look on his face.
“Xiao Jing, why didn’t you say a word if you were eating here at Oriental House? I trust those bastard waiters didn’t ask you, the lady boss,12 to pay right? If they did, I’ll have to reprimand them,” said the fop, and the crowd behind him laughed half-heartedly.
Lady boss? Since when did Jing open this restaurant? Why haven’t I heard her mention this? I wondered as I munched on a chicken’s foot.13
“Huang Wei, don’t you dare go too far with your words! Who do you think you’re calling ‘lady boss’?” Jing slammed the table and stood up sharply, enraged.
“Of course it’s you, Xiao Jing. This Oriental House is mine, and you are my beloved wife, so of course you’re the lady boss!” Huang Wei leered at Jing’s beautiful face.
Yun finally had enough. “Jing isn’t your wife, so quit spouting your nonsense. It’s obvious that you’re just a huge pervert who keeps pestering Jing.” His voice clearly showed that he was trying to control his rage as he spoke.
Huang Wei’s cheeky smile was gone in a flash, replaced by a look of contempt, although to me, it looked more like the expression of a person who had just stepped in dog poo.
“So, a piece of garbage like you still dares to stick to Jing? I told you before that I’ll kill you every time I see you. Did you not understand or do you enjoy being killed?”
Eh? The dish that the waiter is carrying to us now, isn’t that my favorite wontons in chili oil? I swallowed my saliva and stared fiercely at that delicious-smelling, enchantingly red dish of wontons in chili oil, my heart aching. As for whatever’s going on nearby? I have no idea, my stomach’s doing the thinking now.
“So what? Even if you plan to kill me, Jing will still stay by my side, and not yours!” Yun smiled at him fearlessly.
The look on Huang Wei’s face suddenly changed, and he roared, enraged, “Damn you, don’t get too ahead of yourself! Just you wait; I will thrash you just like this dish.” With his right hand, Huang Wei snatched the dish from the waiter, smashing it on the ground and then stomping on the dish and its contents with his foot.
I watched as the wontons in chili oil, which had almost been delivered to me, was suddenly snatched by a hand from the waiter before my very eyes, after which the vividly crimson wontons slid from mid air and landed onto the ground amid the shards of the broken plate. On top of that, a damnable foot stepped onto it and even grinded itself into the mess; and so my wontons lay there, oozing to death, their goodness and beauty forever lost… As the shock was simply too overwhelming, I found myself sitting dazedly at the scene, thinking, My wontons in chili oil…are gone?
“Hmph, don’t think that I’m easy to bully, I have a Dàgē,” said Yun, looking at me confidently.
“A Dàgē? Hahaha, so what?” Huang Wei looked scornfully at me. He beckoned with his hand and immediately the five or six Xiăodìs at his back rubbed their palms and clenched their fists, clearly itching for a fight. “I do have a lot of Xiăodìs, though. Why don’t we see how many blows can your Dàgē take from my Xiăodìs?”
Jing and Yun were both extremely pale, and Jing said coldly, “I forbid you to harm the two of them, Huang Wei.”
“Fine, then become my wife obediently, and then, hehe…” Huang Wei began to laugh brazenly.
Suddenly, I jumped, landing on the table lightly on both feet, and then leaped toward Huang Wei, drawing my Black Dao in midair. Light danced off my blade, and I landed behind Huang Wei.
“Shameless!” I said coldly.
As you must know, every grain on a dish is the result of hard labor. It isn’t a simple thing to make a dish of wontons in chili oil, so how can he waste food like this? Especially when that food is mine! Even if the heavens do not punish a person like him, I will!
All the people present were taken aback, wondering, What on earth just happened? Just then, Huang Wei’s neck suddenly slid to the side. First, a trickle of blood began to seep down his neck, then – as the crowd watched, wide-eyed – an entire fountain of blood began to spurt into to air, and Huang Wei’s entire head was propelled by the flow of blood away from his body. It rolled a few times on the floor, and then he turned into a pillar of white light and left, leaving behind only a puddle of fresh blood on the floor.
“How is it possible?” Yun murmured. “Huang Wei was wearing a helmet and full body armor, how can it be so easy to separate his head from his body?”
I looked with a heavy heart at the corpses of the wontons on the floor, feeling extremely pissed off. After so much anticipation, only for my hopes to be dashed in the end, it really MAKES. ME. PISSED. OFF! I leveled my Black Dao at the Huang Wei’s five Xiăodìs and, in an extremely cold and harsh tone that I rarely use, I said, “Ten seconds. Be gone, or die!”
The Xiăodìs froze. They looked at me, clearly reluctant to leave but also afraid to come forward. None of them dared to move.
“Hmph!” I snorted coldly. Lightly pushing off against the ground with both feet, I skimmed across the floor swiftly until I stood in front of the nearest Xiăodì, and then executed my famous technique: Nine-headed Dragon Slash! Laced with flames, the ten consecutive slashes scored beautiful lines of crimson in the air at lightning speed. As the final blow, I brought my weapon down heavily onto the enemy, cleaving him in two. Then I slowly rose to my feet and sheathed my blade before turning back to my seat. As I turned, that unlucky Xiăodì turned into a pillar of white light and left.
From the beginning until the end of that display, no one had moved. It was only after I returned to my seat that the rest of the Xiăodìs finally began to flee for their lives. I picked up my chopsticks with satisfaction and went back to attacking my food.
After a long while, Jing and Yun finally recovered their senses. They returned to their seats nervously, but did not continue with their meal and only stared at me, wide-eyed.
After another long while, I put down my chopsticks and said sternly, “Yun, Jing, Dàgē has something to ask of the two of you.”
Yun gulped, while Jing’s expression was one of alarm. “What is it, Dàgē?” they said in unison.
“Can I order another serving of wontons in chili oil?”
[½ Prince Volume 3 Chapter 4 End]
2 Lin Dai Yu: A famous female character in Chinese literature, Lin Dai Yu (林黛玉 prn. lín dài yù) is one of the main characters in the novel Dream of the Red Chamber (Hong Lou Meng). She is the epitome of the damsel in distress – beautiful, fragile, easily heartbroken, and ultimately, dead.
In the story, Dai Yu and her older cousin, Jia Bao Yu, the young master of the Jia house, fall in love. However, Dai Yu was not well-liked by members of the house as she came from a relatively impoverished branch of the family. She was also easily depressed, or sorrowful – for instance, she collected fallen flower petals and buried them, then asked, “Today, I buried these flowers. When I die, who will bury me?”
Jia Bao Yu and Lin Dai Yu’s relationship was complicated by the fact that Bao Yu was being match-made to another cousin, Xue Bao Chai, who was comparatively more lively and sensible than Dai Yu. Bao Chai’s family was also wealthy, thus Bao Yu’s family favoured his match with her.
At the end of the story, Jia Bao Yu married Xue Bao Chai, but this was not by choice – he was deceived into believing that he was marrying Lin Dai Yu (since the bride’s face is covered by a red veil till the night of the marriage). In the end, it is revealed that Lin Dai Yu had passed away from illness. Upon learning the truth, Jia Bao Yu decided to become a monk.
For more information, refer to Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lin_Daiyu.
5 An exorcist: Technically, the word should be translated as “a Taoist”, but only because exorcisms of this sort are usually carried out by Taoists in fiction. Modern Taoists are not always exorcists, however, so in this case the specific (exorcist) is more accurate.
6 Fu: As Prince notes in the next line, exorcists use bells to exorcise in most Chinese dramas. However, fus, which are usually special paper with characters written on them with an ink brush, are used usually to render a zombie immobile. This is how is the scene in Chinese period drama horror movies usually unfolds…
- Zombie hops (in Chinese movies, they don’t shamble, they hop) into the scene.
- Exorcist chants or makes some weird motion and the fu paper flies from his hand and sticks itself to the zombie’s forehead.
- Zombie stops moving (and sometimes combusts).
- Exorcist rings the bell. The spirit leaves. If the person possessed is still alive, he/she will wake up.
8 Xiaolongtangbao: Xiaolongbaos are sometimes known also as soup dumplings. They have translucent flour skins as opposed to fluffy skins like meat buns or mantous, and they are usually small enough to fit into a Chinese soup spoon. The filling is usually a mix of minced pork, chopped spring onions, garlic, seasoned with various condiments, and then mixed with soup stock, after which it is frozen and takes on a gelatinous form. When steamed, the fillings melts and the xiaolongbao will become filled with soup. Fancier variants may even include crab meat and roe. For more information on the normal xiaolongbao, please refer to this Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xiaolongbao.
What Prince is eating here is a variant of the soup dumpling, called the Xiaolongtangbao. It is a bit different from the usual xiaolongbao in that there is greater emphasis on the quality of the soup. (That’s why the name has an extra “tang” – “tàng” is “soup” in Chinese!) We’ve dug around the internet looking for a couple of fairly simple recipes for the foodies out there and found two decent ones.
This one here has an English translation next to the Chinese recipe on the site. Ray has also kindly translated another version into English for the foodies (with much agony, it seems). The translated recipe is here below, but you should still take a look at the site if you’re interested in pictures of the xiaolongtangbao. The recipe is as follows:
When making the Xiao Long Tang Bao, there are four important steps.
One of the Xiao Long Tang Bao’s biggest specialties is that it is delicious with lots of soup, and the method of the making the pork skin is the key to having fillings with plenty of soup.
For those of you need a measurement converter, here’s one.
Ingredients: 500g of raw pig’s skin, 500g of pork, 20g (or a large bunch) of spring onions/scallions (10g used for pig’s skin, 10g for onion and ginger juice), 35g of ginger (15g for pig’s skin, 20g for juice), 15ml of rice wine, 250g of flour, salt, MSG, pepper, sugar, soy sauce, lard, sesame oil
The first step: Making the frozen pork skin
- Add cold water to the pig’s skin in a pot and put over a high heat for 2 minutes.
- Remove the fatty meat on the skin and pluck away the fur.
- Put 1500ml of water in a sufficiently deep pot, and put 500g of raw pig’s skin, 10g of spring onion/scallions, 15g of ginger, 15ml of rice wine, and add salt, MSG and pepper in suitable amounts. Cook over low heat for 90 minutes, until the meat is very, very soft and easily pulled off the skin.
- Remove and chop the pig’s skin.
- Put it back into the pot to cook for a short while.
- Leave the pork’s skin in a large, broad bowl to cool off and solidify. You may put it into the fridge (but not the freezer) after it has cooled off sufficiently. (Eri: To those who don’t know their way around the kitchen, refrain from putting a hot or even rather warm object in you fridge until it’s cooled to about room temperature.)
- Remove the pork skin from the bowl once it has cooled off and solidified. (Eri: You should be able to remove it by upending the bowl.)
The second step: Making the fillings.
- Shred the frozen meat using a shredder. (See this picture.)
- Put into a large bowl.
- Add 500g of pork, 7g of salt, 5g of MSG, 15g of sugar, 15ml of soy sauce and mix.
- Add in 200ml of onion and ginger juice (see third step) and mix again. Mix it in the same direction forcefully, and finally add in the sesame oil.
- Add in the frozen pig’s skin. Note that the volume of the fillings made in this step and the volume of the frozen pig’s skin should be about the same. (Eri: Hence, if you’ve reduced the amount of pig’s skin or filling, then you must reduce the amount for the other as well.) Finally, add lard and mix everything.
The third step: Making the onion and ginger juice
- Cut 10g of spring onions, and 20g of ginger into pieces.
- Add 200ml of water and put everything into the blender, or use your hands to squeeze. (Eri: A mortar and pestle works too, but only if you have the patience to work in batches. Using your hands to squeeze ginger is even harder.)
- Filter off the pulp and you will be left with the onion and ginger juice.
For the outer skin that is thin, and does not burst when full of fillings, it is made by adding cold water to all-purpose flour and kneading it.
The last step: Making the dough
- Add 250g of flour to 120ml of cold water to form a lump. Leave it for 10 minutes.
- Knead it continually for a while, and then cut it into small portions each weighing about 10g.
- Roll it into a round disc such that it’s thick in the centre and thin at the sides. Put fillings inside and wrap it.
- Fold it into shape. (Usually, 14 folds is the minimum. 20 folds is ideal.) Leave it for 10 minutes. (See picture for how to fold the flour skin.)
- Put cold water in the steamer and steam them for 5-6 minutes. (Eri: The author of this recipe used 9 minutes.)
- Take it out and serve.
Reminder: The xialongtangbao tastes best with ginger strips and dark vinegar.
9 Wontons in chili oil: As the name suggests, this is basically wontons in chilli oil (NOT Tabasco). Because this dish is very easy to make, we shall provide you with a translation of the recipe. Here is a video demonstrating how to prepare the dish to boot.
Ingredients: Wontons, oyster sauce, soy sauce, refined white sugar, white or dark vinegar, white pepper, garlic, spring onions/chives, chili oil
- Set water to boil in a pan. Once it boils, add your wontons (premade or whatever) into the water. It should be ready in about 1-1.5 minutes. (Eri: To those who have never dealt with wontons, do not overcook them. If you see that there are air pockets bubbling up beneath the dough wrap near where the fillings are, it’s time to rescue your wonton from the hot water. Failure to save them will result in soggy wontons that will fall apart easily.)
- Mix 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of refined white sugar (less if you don’t like it sweet) and 1 teaspoon of white/dark vinegar. Add a little white pepper.
- Mix the wonton with the sauce, sprinkle finely chopped garlic and spring onions/chives on it, and then pour the desired amount of chili oil over it.
The crux of the dish is the chilli oil. You can get this in most Asian supermarkets. The dish originated from the Sichuan province of China, which is not surprising because the chili oil is a staple of Sichuan dishes. Warning: To those who have never tried this kind of chili oil before, it’s way hotter than Tabasco or normal chili.
10 Oriental House: This is written as Zhong Hua Lou (中华楼 prn. zhōng huá lóu) in Chinese. Many restaurants and inns in China in the past (and even now) have the “楼” character in them, which basically means a building with more than one storey.
11 Silver thread rolls: It’s like a bun, but what you do is cut the dough into long strips, kind of like noodles, and then wrap them into a bun shape before baking. Go here to see what it looks like.
13 Chicken’s foot: Most of you have never eaten chicken’s feet, so we need yet another culinary explanation here. Chicken’s feet are used in Chinese cooking quite frequently. They make really good soup stock, for one (extraordinary as it may seem to some of you), and they can also be used to make light dishes, such as dimsum. Here’s an example of a dimsum recipe involving chicken’s feet, while here is a picture of a completed dish (not of the recipe, though).
15 Taro pie: As the name suggests, it’s made of taro. It doesn’t look like a Western sort of pie though, and though I couldn’t find a more “rugged” version, the pies don’t always look as pretty as the one we have here. The ones I see usually look like miniature bricks.