½ Prince Volume 3: Records of the Vagabond Prince
Original novel in Chinese by: 御我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 6: The Demonic Dark God – translated by Spence
Not afraid of the cold? Then who the heck is the person desperately clinging to me for warmth right now? My teeth chattered as I staggered onward, having great difficulty in even lifting my feet, not to mention having to haul along someone who was desperately clinging onto me, with a face pale as a sheet and lips turning blue from the cold – Kenshin.
As soon as Kenshin and I teleported from White Tiger City to the Black Tortoise City in the north, we felt an obvious drop in the temperature, so I bought two fur cloaks and we began to hurry toward Snow Village. As we walked, I gradually came to comprehend just how onerous my fate was. Why? Why? Why is there a BLIZZARD?
Holy crap, it really is damn cold! Even though I had put on or wrapped about my face pretty much everything from my pouch that could be worn, I continued to feel so cold that I found myself thinking, If I were to spit, my saliva would hit the ground as a block of ice; if I were to exhale from my mouth, the moisture in my breath would instantly hit my face as ice.
Next to me, Kenshin was even worse off. We had only just started making our way to Snow Village when he began to shiver non-stop. His condition didn’t improve even after putting on his original rurouni outfit, and in the end he was practically sticking onto me for warmth. Looks like in the face of extreme cold, even the strongest swordsman will fall!
“Ken…shin, a- are we there yet…?” I croaked out with great difficulty.
Kenshin’s face was turning blue from the cold. …Hey, can you at least open your eyes and actually take a look?
Surrounded by heavy snow and raging winds in the middle of that blizzard, all I could see was an expanse of white in front of me. There was only my compass for directions as we made our way onward, and the hope that God, Buddha, and Allah would grant us their protection, seeing how I’m working so hard to save a person…I mean, an NPC.
“Ahhh!” My foot caught on something and I tripped, falling face down in the snow with my arms and legs outstretched, and that bastard Kenshin was stacked steadily on top of me.
“Ken. Shin! If you don’t get up this second, I will throw you back into the Demon Cave to spend an eternity with Sunshine.”
“…” Kenshin’s expression was cold as he reluctantly got off his “fireplace”.
Without someone’s weight pressing me down, I could finally get back on my feet slowly. In my heart, I thought plaintively, Even if I am not being earnestly religious – praying to God on one hand, Buddha on the other, and even referring to the Quran on the side – it’s just because I think that the more I pray, the more protection there will be! Did You all have to punish me like this, and even make me trip when there’s nothing to trip over in this ocean of snow?
Kenshin looked at the ground with a frown and said, “You seemed to have tripped on a rock.”
I hurriedly turned to look. Odd, that arch-shaped rock seemed to resemble…a tombstone? I actually stepped on a tombstone? Oh god, mister ghost, I didn’t mean to step on the front door to your house, so please don’t come looking for me for revenge at night… No, wait, that’s not right, I thought. This is the game world; if we die, don’t we get revived? Who on earth would need a tombstone… A tombstone?
“Kaoru’s grave?!” I exclaimed.
“Let’s clear off the snow from the tombstone,” I said as I pulled out my Black Dao to use as a shovel and began shoveling away the snow.
It required a lot of effort to work in the middle of a blizzard, but nonetheless the two of us shoveled away the snow zealously. However, each time I cleared away a shovelful of snow, yet another load of snow would fall. Even after laboring on it for half a day, Kenshin and I still couldn’t see the words on the tombstone. As time trickled by, the look in Kenshin’s eyes grew more and more frantic and hopeless. Seeing his agony, I continued to dig with renewed vigor, but it was all in vain.
In the end, I was exhausted, having no more strength to continue digging. I could only watch as Kenshin continued to dig like a man possessed, and the more I watched, the more miserable I became. Even though Kenshin knows that the past is just a fiction dictated by the system and has never really taken place, can he still not forget about Kaoru?
As Kenshin continued to shovel away the snow that could never be fully cleared, his movements became more and more frenzied and erratic. His well-kept hair was already a mess, but still the snow continued to fall…
“Kaoru…” Kenshin cast aside his sword and wailed towards the heavens. His face was streaked with tears.
The snow stopped.
As the clouds slowly dispersed, a ray of light shone down from between the clouds and illuminated Kaoru’s tomb. In the small area where it shone, the snow began to melt.
“Here lies Kaoru, who will wait for her beloved husband forever.”
Kenshin staggered toward the tombstones and suddenly dropped onto his knees. “Kaoru…”
I got to my feet and went to stand behind Kenshin silently, gazing at the tombstone together with him. Even though I already knew that this was how things would turn out, nonetheless I still felt an indescribable sorrow at the moment of truth. Rather than say that I grieved for Kaoru, who had passed away, it should be said that I grieved for Kenshin, who could not free himself of the fate that the system had laid in store for him.
“Should I not have come? If I didn’t come, Kaoru would be able to live indefinitely,” Kenshin shouted as he pounded the floor with his fists.
“Instead of waiting in anguish indefinitely, maybe she preferred to lie in her grave, waiting with the knowledge that you would come to see her,” I said slowly. “Just like you, who preferred to come and find her, despite knowing that you could only see her grave.”
Kenshin snapped out of his stupor and smiled bitterly. “Perhaps you’re right.”
“Let’s go and get your revenge then. Even though your enmity isn’t real, turn your sorrow into your motivation to fight, turn your agony into the energy to wield your sword, and fight to your heart’s content. Go, and vent your emotions,” I said, my eyes blazing with battle lust.
Kenshin’s eyes, too, blazed. “Let’s go.” With that, he turned and, without even a backward glance, began to lead the way. The cold was forgotten.
As I thought, he’s someone who likes to fight too, I thought, smiling. I’ve found someone who shares my interest.
“Kenshin, where is the Demonic Dark God? The blizzard might have stopped, but I’m very tired. If it’s too far, can we go tomorrow instead?” I gave Kenshin my most pleading, helpless, and weary look. Unfortunately, Kenshin was clearly very different from Gui.
“It’s in that cave halfway up the mountain. Come on,” Kenshin said heartlessly, urging me to hasten even as he pointed at a cave entrance that was kind of far, but not quite that far away.
I wanted very much to grumble as I climbed up the snowy mountain behind Kenshin. As the cave drew closer, the unease in my heart grew greater and greater, as the terrifyingly enormous statue in front of the cave entrance became clearer and clearer. Aside from that, I also noticed that the cave entrance was so big that you could stuff five of me – stacked vertically – into the cave. Five of me… That’s almost nine meters, I think? I gulped at that thought. That can’t be, right? It’s probably that just the cave’s a tad oversized; it’s impossible that there’s a monster that big, right?
“Kenshin, do you know what the Demonic Dark God looks like?” I asked in a shaking voice.
Kenshin did not spare a backward glance, and merely replied as we hurried along, “From the image that the system gave me, it’s colossal and heavily-built, wears a black robe, has a single horn on its head, and carries the incomparably huge Demonic Sword of Darkness.”
“It sounds really terrifying!” That description contained words like “huge” and “heavily-built”. Plus there’s that enormous cave entrance, I thought, and suddenly felt that getting Kenshin and Sunshine might not be such a simple task after all…
“We’re here,” said Kenshin as he stopped abruptly.
“Are we going in now? First let me see if I can find something that we can use as markers, so that we won’t get lost inside the cave…” I hurriedly began rummaging around in my pouch.
Kenshin, however, stood right in the middle of the cave entrance and suddenly bellowed, “Demonic Dark God, I, Kenshin, have come to claim the debt owed to me.”
I froze and stared into the impenetrable darkness of the cave alongside Kenshin, but there was only silence, as though even the wind and snow did not dare to make a single sound. Burdened with an intense feeling of uneasiness, I immediately drew out Black Dao. The steely ringing made by my sword as it left its sheath seemed especially loud in the silence.
A small stone suddenly fell from the roof of the cave…after which, the ground began to shake violently, and a fierce gust of wind actually came from the depths of the cave, and I could barely keep standing. The interior of the cave, which was originally dark, was now shrouded in an eerie green glow.
I knew that the battle was about to commence and that the opponent for this battle would possibly be the strongest I had ever encountered. With a resolute heart, I went over and stood next to Kenshin and gazed at the cave entrance with a haughty look in my eyes.
At long last, the Demonic Dark God appeared.
With a heavy heart, I opened my mouth to ask, “Kenshin, strength and size may not be directly proportionate to one another, but do you think it’s possible that the Demonic Dark God might not even notice us, but just accidentally kill us by stepping on us?”
Kenshin looked up at the Demonic Dark God in front of us without a word.
My god, it really lifted its leg, I thought, and hastily scrambled further away, dragging Kenshin along. You’ve got to be kidding me, who on earth can even fight against this monster that has to stoop just to get out of a nine-meter-high cave?
“No, I will avenge Kaoru,” Kenshin said, wresting free of my hold and charging toward the Demonic Dark God unhesitatingly.
I watched as Kenshin charged toward the Demonic Dark God, and had no other choice but to run after him with a forced smile and furrowed brow. As I ran, I shouted, “Be careful, Kenshin! Don’t confront it head on.”
Kenshin seemed to have turned a deaf ear upon what I had said and instead rushed at the Demonic Dark God without so much as a word. As he neared the demon god, he jumped directly onto its kneecap, and then with a step on its muscle, he leapt into the air until he was directly in front of the demon god’s face, drawing his sword in that second. Just as it seemed he was about to slash the demon god’s face, its enormous hand came hurtling toward Kenshin’s side. Kenshin had no choice but to leap backward, dodging the giant slap that might have otherwise cost him his life.
“Kenshin, I’ll distract him. Go attack him from behind,” I shouted as I swung my dao down onto the Demonic Dark God’s foot.
CLANG! There was actually a sound of metal clashing when the sword and foot met? I lowered my head to take a look and gulped, not daring to believe that I couldn’t even nick the demon god’s skin. Let’s try again, I thought, and swung my sword down heavily again… CLANG!
“To think that my Black Dao can’t even do any damage to the demon god, it looks like I need further training.” I felt deeply frustrated. There I stood with my Black Dao in one hand, crestfallen, as several dead leaves were lifted into the air by a breeze…
“Prince, quick! Dodge it!” I heard Kenshin bellow.
I looked up and saw the so-called Demonic Sword of Darkness hurtling toward me with all the momentum of an airplane plummeting to the ground. I darted to one side with lightning speed, however, the airplane…the demon sword once again came slashing at me. My god, I’m so small, but he can still slash at me horizontally? Isn’t this unreasonable? Which retarded programmer… I splayed out on the ground in a rather pathetic manner, narrowly evading that demon sword.
I rapidly clambered to my feet and immediately took to my heels, trying to flee…I mean, trying to distract the demon god, so as to give Kenshin the opportunity to launch a sneak attack. As I fled for my life, I wanted very much to cry; I could sense the earth trembling with each step the demon god took. The airplane demon sword would also swing at my butt from time to time… I wonder, will I be stepped on and reduced to offal, or will I be diced and turned into meat paste?
“Kenshin, hurry up with your sneak attack! If I’m turned into meat paste or offal, I guarantee that I will return to the Demon Cave and haunt you as a ghost!” I yelled desperately.
“I tried to cut him already, it didn’t work,” Kenshin replied, incensed.
“What?!” The color drained from my face. Do the heavens want me dead this badly? But I don’t want to die such a gory death, I thought, and shouted, “Kenshin, which way’s the cliff?”
Upon hearing my words, Kenshin’s dejection vanished and he rallied himself. “Turn left! Turn left, and it’ll be straight ahead.”
Turn left? For the first time in my life, I found turning left to be an extremely difficult action to execute. “Kenshin, I can’t turn left!” I will be turned into meat paste if I do…
“Demon god, your enemy is me!” Kenshin’s enraged roar sounded from behind, and as soon as the words left his mouth, the Demonic Dark God that had been hot on my heels actually turned around and went for Kenshin instead.
Seeing Kenshin make a beeline for the cliff, I immediately ran after him. As I ran, I thought, How on earth are we going to make the demon god fall off the cliff? Trip it? It would probably step on me and turn me into a pancake and still not even register my presence!
“Kenshin, how do you intend to make it fall off the cliff obediently?” Unable to get my thoughts straightened out, I could only open my mouth and yell desperately at Kenshin, who was in front of me.
“Prince, help me lure it to the precipice, as close to the edge as possible.” After suddenly saying that, Kenshin stopped running and simply began to dodge the demon god’s airplane sword, waiting for me to “take the next shift”.
“Can I refuse?” I asked, tears brimming in my eyes.
“No,” Kenshin replied coldly.
Waaah… I braced myself for whatever was coming and leapt at the demon god, slashing down at its kneecap mid-leap. As before, there was a loud “clang”. I turned and began sprinting frantically toward the cliff, and all I prayed for was for Kenshin to actually have a plan.
With the demon god hot on my heels, as the time spent on evading it grew longer and longer, I began to feel rather worn out. On several occasions, I only managed to dodge the blade narrowly, and was even cut multiple times by the fierce wind that followed in the wake of each swing of the giant blade. Combining the fatigue with the pain, I began to feel like I could keel over any time. Still, I forced myself to hang in there. Sunshine’s still waiting for me to complete the quest, and I have to bring him back with me to the Central Continent!
Give up? I don’t know those words!
Upon finally reaching the precipice, I nearly burst into tears. To think a cliff, the same geographical structure that I have fallen off twice, would actually now save my life! Fate is truly unpredictable.
No matter, I thought. Now that the cliff was right in front of me, I yelled frantically at Kenshin, “Kenshin, I’m at the cliff! If you have a trick up your sleeve then hurry up and do it, otherwise I’m about to go free falling with the demon god!”
Kenshin merely followed behind us, and the calm expression on his face seemed to hint at the calm before a storm. His right hand had long since been placed on his sword hilt. Timing! He’s waiting for the perfect time to finish off his most hated enemy.
Hmm, looks like I’m three centimeters away from a fate involving falling off a cliff… I turned my head and looked at the immense expanse of empty air beyond the precipice, and then turned to look at the enormous demon god. That’s odd! Why am I always being forced to choose between falling to my death and being stomped to death? Could we try something new next time? As I traded stares helplessly with the demon god, I spied from the corner of my eye a human figure leaping to a height that was about level with the demon god’s head… Although he did make use of several nearby trees, Kenshin’s jump power is still incredibly amazing, I mentally noted, impressed.
“Air Shattering Strike!” Kenshin bellowed in an incomparably powerful voice and unsheathed his sword at lightning speed, slashing toward the back of the demon god’s head… This looks like it’s a move based on the sword-drawing technique?1 I thought, and saw the gust of air following in the sword’s wake press down the demon god’s hair, followed by a resounding “CLANG!”. Although I didn’t know if the demon god was injured or not, I could see at least that Kenshin’s strength was sufficient to cause the demon god to fall forward.
Looks like it’s just a matter of time before it falls off the cliff, I thought, once again impressed by Kenshin… But why has the sky suddenly gone dark? I raised my head to take a look, and found myself gaping, wide-eyed, at the behemoth…the Demonic Dark God that was toppling over onto me!
Dear heavens, you should really lose some weight, demon god! With a body mass like that, I can’t even find a place to escape to… My god! With a tear-streaked face, I mentally bemoaned my fate as I fell off a cliff for the third time…
“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” I screamed at the top of my lungs, clenching my eyes shut tightly as I braced myself for the excruciating pain of hitting the ground. “AHHHHH…”
“Can you shut up?” Kenshin’s cold voice suddenly came from above me.
“Ahhhhh…?” I raised my head and Kenshin’s face came into view. I froze, and saw that Kenshin held in his hands the ends of a red length of cloth which was tightly wrapped about my waist, and…that Kenshin’s pants had slipped to his knees as his belt was missing.
“Kenshin, is a loincloth comfortable?” I asked seriously. It’s something I’ve been wondering about ever since my last “accidental” peek.
“What’s a loincloth?” Kenshin asked with a frown.
“That’s the cloth you’re wearing right now to cover your important area.”
Kenshin lowered his head to look at the cloth, evidently puzzled. “Don’t you wear this?”
“No, I don’t, I wear boxers,” I denied solemnly. I most definitely do not wear loincloths.
“What’s the difference?”
“Hmmm, I would love to discuss with you the differences between loincloths and boxers, but…” I trailed off, frowning. “You know, it’s really not very…sanitary to be discussing the matter of underwear while dangling in mid-air, and besides, I’m not really used to not having both feet firmly planted on the ground.”
I rolled my eyes. “As such, could you kindly pull me up first? I promise that I will clearly list out every type of underwear available to you, and then explain each of them in detail, okay?”
I climbed over the edge of the cliff and sat down on the ground, not quite daring to believe that I’d managed to avoid dying by falling off a cliff yet again.
<System notice: Prince has received a human-type pet. Please give your pet a name.>
“Kenshin,” I said lazily.
<Pet owner: Prince | Pet name: Kenshin | Level: 100 | Health: 10,000 | Mana: 1,500>
<Attributes – Strength: 300 | Physique: 150 | Agility: 150 | Intelligence: 50 | Willpower: 50 | Wisdom: 0>
<Techniques: Sword Drawing Technique / Continual Strike / Air Shattering Strike / Dragon Flight of Heaven / Void Piercer / Light Movement / Aerial Leap / Instant Ignition>2
<Special notes: Quest pet, unable to level up, unable to learn new techniques>
“Even if we set aside the fact that you’re level 100, your stats are simply too terrifying. No wonder you’re so strong,” I said, looking at his stats with envy.
“It’s a shame that you can’t level up, though. The system is quite a cheapskate; I put in so much effort to get you,” I couldn’t resist grumbling under my breath.
Kenshin shot me a cold look and said mildly, “Running a few steps can also be considered a lot of effort?”
Hearing his words, I immediately jumped to my feet and retorted, “What do you mean, ‘running a few steps’? I’ll have you know that I came all the way from the Central Continent, and had to help Jing and Yun level up for so many days before I could be pushed off a cliff by them. In addition, I had to brave a blizzard to get to Snow Village, and I even tripped and fell… Hey, Kenshin, don’t go yet, I’m not done talking! What’s with that cold stare? Don’t you realize that I’m your owner? Hey, don’t you ignore me!”
“What are we supposed to do next?” Kenshin and I had teleported to the White Tiger City in the west. Just what exactly are we supposed to do to free Sunshine, who’s still stuck in the Demon Cave? I really can’t remember.
“We have to go to the Adventurers’ Guild and receive the prophets’ quest.”
“Right.” I understood.
After that, I eagerly stepped into the Adventurers’ Guild. I wanted to finish the quest quickly and then bring the strong Kenshin and elegant Sunshine back with me to the Central Continent. Sigh, I really miss everyone in Odd Squad.
After receiving the quest, I looked at the piece of paper in my hands and felt rather dizzy. What is this? Why is it that, on the map given to me by the Adventurers’ Guild, the location of the three great prophets are pretty much just three points that would form a giant triangle when connected on the entire Eastern Continent? Wouldn’t they be really hard to locate, even if I actually had a sense of direction?
Never mind, I thought, and suddenly got back my nerve. There’s still Kenshin here with me. What am I scared of? “Hey, Kenshin, it should be a piece of cake for you to locate the three great prophets, right?”
Kenshin slowly turned to look at me, his expression stoic as ever. “I don’t know the location of anything aside from Kaoru’s Snow Village!”
…Looks like this quest’s difficulty might very well increase by three levels because of two people who have absolutely no sense of direction, I thought, heaving a sigh, and resigned myself to staring at the map. Let’s start with the nearest! This nearest point seems to be in the lower left corner; looks like it’s in White Tiger City.
“No matter, we’ll just keep heading left and down,” I said, and began to walk forward briskly.
“Prince.” Kenshin, who had been following silently all this while, suddenly called out my name.
I continued to walk and only glanced back at him. “What?”
“You still haven’t explained to me about underwear,” Kenshin replied with a dead serious expression.
“Hmmm, underwear…” I only know that there are low-rise ones, ones with girdles, lacy ones, thongs… I wonder if guys have other types of underwear aside from boxers and briefs? Waaah, how would I know anyway? I can’t possibly recommend lace underwear to Kenshin, can I? Oh shit, I really kind of want to do so. Kenshin wearing lace underwear… Heh! Hmmm, it might be worth a try.
“Never mind,” Kenshin said abruptly.
I felt crestfallen. I looked at Kenshin with shining eyes and pleaded, “Why? I really want to discuss it with you. Let me tell you about it, pleeease?”
Kenshin fired another cold look my way. “For some reason, I simply didn’t want to know after seeing your smile.”
“…” I scratched my face. So it was my smile that gave it away. Next time I must remember not to smile. Mission “Get Kenshin to Wear Lace Underwear” – failed… Such a pity.
“Is this the sea?” Kenshin suddenly stopped dead in his tracks. He stared at the sea dumbly, as though he had never seen such a sight before. On his face was a complicated mix of delight and awe.
As for me, my feelings toward the sea weren’t half as pleasant. The memory of being trapped on the ocean, bored to the point of talking to Meatbun, and even forced to work as a deckswabber and clean off seagulls’ droppings in order to pay for my meals…is really not something I want to remember.
“Can we get closer to look at it?” Kenshin asked hesitantly, even awkwardly.
I flashed a pearly smile at him. “Of course.”
On the surface, Kenshin was calm as ever, but his footsteps quickened noticeably. I grinned and followed him. To think that the stoic Kenshin would actually feel shy!
Kenshin stopped before the sky-blue expanse of water, and I walked up silently to stand next to him. After a moment, I said, “It’s very beautiful, isn’t it? Wait till we rescue Sunshine and go to the Central Continent! You two will definitely see many more beautiful scenes like this.”
“Mm.” A ghost of a smile appeared on Kenshin’s face at last.
I glanced around at our surroundings. Why does this place feel rather familiar? I looked to the left and an extremely familiar-looking ship came into my view, as well as an extremely familiar-looking harbor… We’ve actually ended up at the harbor? I whipped out the map and checked it again, only to discover that I’d strayed by about forty-five degrees or so. What a disaster! I thought. If I can’t even reach the nearest point on the map, then how on earth am I going to find all three great prophets?
“Sigh, I can’t find the way,” I said, frowning.
Kenshin tore his gaze away from the sea and suggested, “There are a lot of people over there. Shall we ask them for directions?”
“A lot of people?” I turned and saw that there really was a quite a crowd. It seems like they’re all watching something? Interesting, I thought, and enthusiastically dragged Kenshin along toward the crowd. “Come on, let’s check out the commotion.”
“Commotion? Is it even more beautiful than the sea?”
“Err… It depends on your taste.”
This is really quite a lot of people…plus, it looks like the atmosphere is pretty tense? I looked at the crowd that had gathered, most of whom were clenching their fists and cracking their knuckles, with livid expressions on their face, and some had even drawn their weapons. What’s going on? I peered left and right, desperate to see just what was going on at the center of the crowd.
“Local mob boss Huang Wei,” blurted out the person next to me all of a sudden, and his voice was even shaking.
“Huang Wei?” That name sure sounds familiar.
“Lü Jing, are you going to be my wife or not? I’m telling you, I’ve already posted my people at all the rebirth points. If you say no, I will definitely kill this kid over and over until he hits level one again,” said a familiar voice – the kind that begs to be thrashed – from the middle of the crowd.
As soon as I heard it, my face darkened. Huang Wei, you lowlife; you actually dare to pick on my best friends again and even try to force Jing to marry you? You obviously underestimated me.
I shoved aside the gradually retreating crowd in front of me and immediately saw Jing, whose face was white as a sheet, and Yun, who was being held down by several other players. Rage boiled in my veins, and I said in an incomparably frosty voice, “If she’ll marry you, I’ll swallow my dao whole.”
All eyes fell upon me, and Yun exclaimed agitatedly, saying, “Elf? Dàgē is an elf alright. Is that you, Dàgē?”
I smiled. “Aside from me, which other elf would be sightseeing here on the Eastern Continent?”
“Dàgē…” There was a complicated look on Jing’s pale face as she cried out to me hesitantly.
I shifted my attention to Huang Wei, who was as shiny and as unbelievably crass as before, and spoke in an icily calm voice that belied my fury. “Huang Wei, right? Looks like the lesson I gave you the last time around wasn’t enough.”
“You…!” Huang Wei’s face contorted with anger and, to a lesser extent, terror. “God damn it, don’t think that I’m really scared of you. Last time you snuck up on me, but it won’t be that easy this time. Boys, get him! Whoever kills him will be heavily rewarded,” Huang Wei roared.
“The fight’s started, Kenshin,” I remarked to Kenshin, who was next to me, with a faint smile. I was feeling rather eager. I had to endure so much frustration in the fight with the demon god. How can I pass up on this opportunity now that I’ve finally met someone whom I can bully?!
Kenshin’s face was expressionless as he gave a curt nod.
I drew Black Dao, and smiled coldly as I looked at Huang Wei, who had retreated behind his henchmen, thinking, You think that I can’t get to you just because you’re hiding at the back? Kenshin and I darted forward simultaneously, completely unconcerned by the presence of eight thugs in front of us. We moved at lightning speed between their blades, my Black Dao and Kenshin’s sword were so fast that all that could be seen of them was a black shadow and silver gleam respectively, followed by blood spurting everywhere…
I leaped and darted about nonstop, feeling refreshed, not seeing the eight thugs as threats at all. Heck, last time I dared to challenge them on my own, and this time I have a level 100 terror, Kenshin, by my side. It might be quite an insult to some, but to me, this fight is really just a game to get rid of my itch to fight.
I left the last two guys to Kenshin to deal with and sauntered toward Huang Wei with a bland smile. “Huang Wei, listen to me carefully. Don’t ever let me catch you bullying these two people who call me Dàgē. Otherwise, no matter how much trash you bring with you, to me, they will still just be flies buzzing around.”
“As for you, I will definitely kill you without fail.” With a flick of my weapon, I knocked that flashy but utterly useless gold sword from Huang Wei’s hand and sent it skidding far away.
Nine-headed Dragon Strike!
I threw back my head and laughed wildly as I watched streaks of white light shoot into the sky. After a long while, I stopped laughing and a sudden realization hit me upon catching sight of Kenshin, who had finished off the remaining two thugs a while ago. Hmmm… I’d just used Kenshin’s move right before him, hadn’t I? But…Kenshin’s techniques didn’t include the Nine-headed Dragon Strike, so it should be fine, right? *sweat*
“Are you guys alright?” I looked worriedly at Yun and Jing. Fortunately, aside from their pale faces, the two of them looked unharmed.
“Dàgē…” Yun walked up to me, regret evident on his face. Standing in front of me, he sudden dropped onto his knees. “I’m sorry, Dàgē.”
I looked at him, bug-eyed, thinking, Yun, this fellow who hates to lose face, is actually kneeling before me in front of this crowd?
“Dàgē, we’ve deceived you so many times. Why do you still help us?” Jing asked as she came up to me, hesitation written all over her face.
I shrugged. “I said it before, I don’t do things that I will regret, and once I’ve decided to do something, I won’t regret it. I’ve already decided to help the two of you, and so I’ll help you till the end.”
“Dàgē,” Yun and Jing said in unison, and the two seemed to have made up their mind about something. “We beg of you, please let us stay by your side.”
“Huh?” I frowned. “The two of you should have enough money to go to the Central Continent now. Don’t bother about me and go there first. I still have some business to take care of here.”
Their faces suddenly turned pasty, and Yun asked in a trembling voice, “Dàgē, are you unwilling to let us stay by your side? I can swear that we will never betray you again.”
“It’s not like that…” My brow creased with thought as I wondered, Should I let them follow me? I couldn’t decide. It would be good to have them along, especially since Yun’s and Jing’s sense of direction is definitely way better than mine…but if they come along, I will have to explain to them about Kenshin and Sunshine.
“Demon king?” Jing suddenly exclaimed softly as she stared at Kenshin dumbly.
Yun too, turned to look at Kenshin, an incredulous expression on his face.
I paled slightly, and hastily said, “Don’t say anything first, just follow me.”
Jing and Yun led Kenshin and me to a restaurant and charged into a random booth. The two of them promptly sat down and two pairs of eyes began staring intently at Kenshin’s expressionless face. Amused, I deliberately picked up the menu slowly and leisurely ordered dish after dish, as though I hadn’t noticed their agitation… Heh! I’m about to die from stifling my laughter. To think that I can tease them like this in-game; usually they’re the ones who team up to pick on me.
“For the last dish, we’ll have…” What should I order?
“Wontons in chili oil, right, Dàgē?” Yun said with a cheeky grin. “I’ve fallen in love with wontons in chili oil as well. Dàgē’s taste in food is the best!”
I raised my eyebrows. I must admit that when it comes to food, I’m definitely the connoisseur of our group. After all, aren’t I the one who always decides where to eat and what to order every time we eat out? “Then wontons in chili oil it is.”
As soon as the waiter left the booth, Jing and Yun immediately fixed their eyes on Kenshin again, clearly determined to get to the bottom of the truth.
I sighed, and said sternly, “Jing, Yun, what I’m about to tell you two now is something very important. I want the two of you to promise never to tell anyone, and never to mention the matter again.”
Jing and Yun exchanged a resolute look, and Yun said firmly, “Dàgē, I am willing to swear that from this day on, I will obey Dàgē without fail. Since Dàgē has asked us not to speak of the matter, the two of us will not so much as breathe a word about it.”
“If Dàgē is still skeptical, then there’s no need to even explain the matter to us. We won’t object,” Jing said as well.
I looked at Kenshin inquiringly. After all, it was his business. I had no right to decide for him.
“Tell them. I have no desire for them to treat me like any other NPC,” Kenshin replied coolly.
Jing and Yun stared at him blankly for three seconds, and then Yun stammered, “You…you’ve attained self-awareness? Can it be true? This kind of thing that only happens in sci-fi novels is actually happening?”
“That’s precisely how it is.” I scratched my face, thinking, So Yun’s actually smarter than I thought he was. He actually managed to figure out the truth just like that. “Kenshin’s not the only one. There’s another one called Sunshine. I’m currently trying to figure out a way to rescue him as well.”
“There’s another one?” Yun and Jing were stunned.
“Yeah. I have to finish another quest, only then can I get Sunshine out of the Demon Cave.” I frowned. “There’s something I need your help with, though. I’m not too good at reading the map provided for the quest…”
“Let me take a look.” As expected of Jing, she’d gotten over the shock pretty quickly and calmly asked for the map.
I took out the extremely confusing map and passed it to her. Jing stared at the map, frowning, and then took out a protractor… How professional, I thought in admiration. No wonder they never get lost. I should learn from them, but first, how do you use a protractor?
“Head twenty degrees east-south-east from the harbor and travel for approximately fifteen kilometers,” Jing pronounced as she stowed away her protractor.
“Oh…” I replied indifferently as I chewed on my food. After all, with them to lead the way – since Jing and Yun already said that they would follow me – I wouldn’t have to bother with this “east-south-east” or whatever.
I picked up a meat bun from the table and stared at it mutely for a while. I haven’t fed Meatbun for a few days now, right? I thought, breaking out in cold sweat. CRAP! Not caring if Jing and Yun were still present, I hurriedly reached into my pouch and fished out Meatbun…
“Mamaaaaa!” Meatbun’s eyes were visibly swollen from crying, but as soon as it saw me, its face seemed to light up with joy. “Meatbun-bun missed Mama so badly, Meatbun-bun’s tum-tum is also very hungry-hungry!”
I couldn’t even begin to express the heartache and regret I felt. To think that I’d actually forgotten to feed it… I hurriedly fed Meatbun the edible meat bun in my hand. As I fed it, I apologized, saying, “I’m really sorry, Meatbun, I really forgot. It’s my fault for making you hungry for so long.”
“Mmmph, mmmph!” Meatbun’s mouth was completely stuffed with food, but it continued to look at me with happiness shining in its eyes.
Seeing that Meatbun was eating happily, I felt relieved and once again raised my chopsticks, ready to fill my own stomach…only to see three pairs of eyes looking on, stunned.
“A meat bun with eyes…” Yun said, wide-eyed and slack-jawed.
“A talking meat bun…” Jing gulped.
“…” Kenshin said nothing.
I chuckled. “This is my pet. It’s called Meatbun. Meatbun, say hello to everyone.”
Meatbun swallowed the large meat bun in its mouth and hopped onto the table, saying, “Hello, everyone-one! Meatbun-bun’s name is Meatbun. Meatbun-bun is Mama’s pet.”
“Mama?” Three pairs of eyes turned to look at me inquisitively.
“Meatbun’s not too good at distinguishing gender and always likes to call me ‘Mama’,” I replied, sweating furiously. This is a complete lie. There’s probably nobody in this world as good at distinguishing gender as Meatbun…
“Dàgē’s pets are really special,” Yun said with a helpless smile.
Hmmm, let me think. My first pet’s a meat bun with eyes, the second’s Kenshin, a manga character who’s attained self-awareness, and after rescuing Sunshine, won’t my third pet be an Arabic prince who’s gained self-awareness? They certainly are very special… *sweat*!
“So you like to eat meat buns, Meatbun-bun? That’s really unusual,” Yun said to Meatbun, which was “sitting” on his shoulder.
“Meat buns, yummy!” Meatbun replied, bouncing on its perch delightedly.
“Meat buns are pretty tasty. When did you start to speak?”
“After fighting with fire birdie.”
“What’s a fire birdie?”
“It’s Gui-gui’s pet.”
“And what is a ‘gui-gui’?”
“Gui-gui is…” Meatbun tilted its big head to one side in thought. “A thing like Mama.”
“Oh…another elf warrior,” Yun remarked, suddenly seeing the light. “Then…”
“…” No comment.
Along the way to the first prophet, two of us humans – Jing and myself – and an NPC listened speechlessly to the nonsensical conversation between another human and a meat bun. Looks like Yun and Meatbun clicked together quite easily. Neither of them can stop talking – so they’d just keep talking to one another!
“Jing, how much further is it?” I asked exasperatedly. If I keep listening to the two of them chatter on, I’m afraid I will really end up with neurasthenia!
Jing held the map in her left hand and a compass in her right. “It should be around here, Dàgē.”
“Let’s search around here, then.”
Thwack! My foot met some resistance mid-step. Was there some obstacle? I wondered, and looked down… I actually kicked an elderly beggar’s bowl and sent it flying five meters away? I gaped. My god, what have I done? I hurriedly picked up the bowl and apologized profusely, saying, “I’m really sorry, uncle. Here is your bowl.”
Seeing there wasn’t much of a reaction from the elderly beggar, I thought for a brief moment and then reached into my pouch and fished out several gold coins and placed them in his bowl. “Uncle, these gold coins are for you. I’m really sorry for knocking over your bowl.”
With the matter settled, I was just about to continue walking when I saw Jing and Yun staring at me in astonishment. “What is it?” I felt my face. Nope, my mask is still in place! So what are they staring at me for?
“Nothing, it’s just… Dàgē’s attitude towards NPCs is really unusual,” Yun replied in a tone of surprise.
Jing took a deep breath and said, “No wonder Kenshin and Sunshine chose you to take on their quest.”
“…” Kenshin’s impassive face suddenly twitched. *Sweat* If I recall correctly, the reason why they chose me seemed to have to do with the fact that no one else has fallen off that cliff before…
Still, I had to keep up my appearance, and so I coughed twice and in a falsely stern tone, said, “Since when did Kenshin have a quest for me to take on? What are you two babbling about?”
The two of them immediately panicked. “Sorry, Dàgē. We didn’t say anything.”
I nodded and said in a relaxed tone, “Let’s hurry and locate the prophet.”
A weak voice came from where the elderly beggar was kneeling on the ground, saying, “Why do you seek the prophet?”
We turned to look at him. “We wish to learn about the prophecy inscribed upon the peak of the Azure Mountain,” I replied hesitantly.
The beggar sighed faintly and got to his feet slowly. “Looks like I can’t hide forever! I am one of the three great prophets.”
“Ah?” All of us were dumbfounded. Is he for real? Is it so tough to be a prophet that he has to resort to begging in order to eat?
“Young man, seeing that you’re a good person, I won’t make things hard for you. I was originally going to ask you to do something in order to prove that you are a righteous man,” said the prophet with a benign smile. “Now, I shall hand this piece of the map of the Azure Mountain to you unconditionally.”
I accepted the map piece from him, feeling a bit stunned. We got the first fragment this easily?
“Excuse me, mister prophet, but what were you going to ask us to do initially?” Jing asked curiously.
“Challenge the Fierce Tigers’ stronghold on Tiger Mountain and kill their three leaders,” the prophet replied lightly.
Jing’s and Yun’s jaws were hanging open in a most inelegant fashion. “The Fierce Tigers’ stronghold… That’s an area no less dangerous than the Demon Cave, and we would have to kill the three bosses?”
After a long while, Yun finally managed to close his mouth. He turned to look me reverently and said, “Dàgē, I really am in awe of you. Xiăodì will definitely learn from your example, and have a noble heart which does not deign to serve as a healer of the masses.”
Hey, can you not abuse proverbs like that? Healer of the masses indeed! And to think that you’re majoring in Chinese literature like me, I thought, scratching my face. Still, it’s truly unexpected that such a small action would actually save us so much trouble. Just as well; this way, the time until I get to see everyone in Odd Squad again will be even shorter.
I turned toward the elderly prophet-beggar. “Thank you for the map piece, uncle prophet. We’ll be on our way now to look for the second prophet.”
The prophet smiled. “Such a polite fellow. Then let me give you yet another hint. The northern prophet often appears at that place with chickens, ducks, fish, meat, green vegetables, and carrots.” After saying that, he knelt down once again and resumed being a beggar.
“The wet market?” I mused, scratching my face. The designs for the prophets sure are weird. Here I thought they would all be hiding like hermits in the mountains or other secluded places with only birds and beasts for company. “Then let’s go to the Northern Tortoise City to look for the northern prophet!”
“Yes, Dàgē.” Jing and Yun looked at me more worshipfully than ever.
“Looks like this quest will be easier than I thought.” Right? I thought confidently. Members of Odd Squad, I’ll be coming home soon!
[½ Prince Volume 3 Chapter 6 End]
1 Sword-drawing technique: Kenshin fans may be more familiar with the Japanese term for this – “battoujutsu”. As the name implies, the types of moves based on this technique often involves (to varying degrees) the drawing of the sword, such as using the movement to build up momentum for the actual attack. See Wikipedia for more information.
2 Kenshin’s techniques: Note that Kenshin here only has a few of his moves from Rurouni Kenshin such as Dragon Flight of Heaven (also known as Amakakeru Ryuu no Hirameki). Most of the other moves are not from the Rurouni Kenshin universe.