½ Prince Volume 4: The Buskers of Infinite City
Original novel in Chinese by: 御我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 2: Snake Kiss – translated by samuki
“Prince, the people you’ve brought back are rather remarkable, aren’t they?” Lolidragon asked suspiciously. “Where on earth did you find them?”
I shrugged. “Jing and Yun are my classmates; it’s just a coincidental meeting. Plus they just found out that I’m Prince. As for Kenshin and Sunshine…” I hesitated. Should I tell her?
“They’re NPCs from a hidden quest, right?” Lolidragon stated matter-of-factly.
“How did you know?” I demanded, shocked.
Lolidragon froze for a moment, and then she retorted, “I’m a hidden GM, remember?”
“Oh…,” I scratched my cheek. Didn’t she say that hidden GMs are exactly like normal players? That’s why I thought she wouldn’t know!
Lolidragon sighed deeply and shook her head in disbelief. “You’re one lucky dog, to even be able to complete this super-duper disgustingly difficult hidden mission! You know, Lantis and Kenshin were only created for fun; no one ever expected anyone to complete the mission!”
“Uh, there’s actually a reason behind that,” Should I tell Lolidragon about Kenshin and Sunshine’s ‘awakening’? I hesitated a little; after all, Lolidragon was a Second Life employee. Who knew if she would report this incident?
“It would be best for you to tell everyone that they’re your humanoid pets soon; I’ve already seen a lot of people treating them like players,” Lolidragon nagged.
“No, I can’t tell.” I waved my hands frantically.
Lolidragon asked suspiciously, “Why?”
“Uh, because they’ve gained self-awareness now and I have no intention of treating them as humanoid pets. In fact, I want them to be just like normal players.” I explained everything in one breath.
“Self-awareness?” Lolidragon paled.
As expected, it really is shocking… I took a deep breath, and then said seriously, “Lolidragon, could you please not tell? Don’t inform anyone else about this, okay? Especially not the people from the game company, or else Sunshine and Kenshin would be in danger. I don’t want them to be deleted, so please.”
Lolidragon’s stern expression remained in place for a moment, leaving me in suspense. Finally, she lost it, bursting out into a guffaw. Waving her hand, she said, “Relax, I won’t say a thing. It’s not every day that NPCs gain self-awareness. Something as fun as this, how could I tell the company and let them spoil my fun?”
I was speechless. Whichever company that had hired Lolidragon must be really unfortunate.
The door opened with a thump – Lolidragon and I looked toward the entrance, as a familiar petite figure leapt into my arms and murmured into my ear, “Prince, you’ve finally come back, oh how I’ve missed you!”
I looked down, expressionless. Fairsky really is like an unstoppable, determined roach… Then another very familiar black-haired head latched onto my back . I looked back in stoic silence. This one had even more vitality than Fairsky – Gui, with skin so tough that even bullets could not penetrate it, was looking at me with tear-filled eyes. “Your Highness, you’ve finally returned! I’ve been so worried!”
Worse still, standing in front of me with popping veins on his head, Wicked had long since drawn his sword. I looked impassively at him as he kicked Fairsky and Gui off, and then gave them the beating of their lives… The beaten duo, not wanting to take this sitting down, ganged up against Wicked. Fairsky blocked Wicked’s attacks, while Gui shot cold arrows1 at him, turning Wicked into a bloody pincushion.
“Not stopping them?” Lolidragon asked coolly.
“It’s a good show to watch, why stop it?” I replied in the same cool manner.
Just then, Wicked’s longsword was flung into the air by Fairsky, grazing my cheek and leaving a bloody line… The three brawlers paused to look back at me with regret and heartache in their eyes. I wiped the blood from my cheek with the back of my hand, smiling slightly. “Hitting me too? Interesting!”
Finally, Lolidragon ended up munching on guazi while watching as I thrashed the trio, chatting with me the whole time. “Prince, why don’t you take Phoenix on as well? She’s been moaning about Fan day and night; Nan Gong Zui’s frustrated, as is White Bird.”
“Who’s White Bird?” I punched Gui with my right hand, stepped on Wicked with my left leg, and tickled Fairsky with my left hand using all my strength.
“Oh, you still don’t know. I’ll tell you all about what’s happened!”
Lolidragon told me everything that had transpired during my absence.
“What? Rose and Broken Sword are together?” I paled; in shock, wondering if we had to give them red packets2 soon. It can’t be, right? Recently mom’s been running out to play all the time and she hasn’t written any manuscripts; our house’s finances are a mess. Where am I supposed to get the money for the red packets? When I thought of this, I lashed out more violently at the trio on the floor.
“Are you jealous?” Lolidragon lifted an eyebrow.
At this time, the almost dead trio on the floor leapt up suddenly, looking at me with worried faces. I replied hotly, “No way!”
“That’s good,” someone from the side sighed in relief. I looked over to spot Broken Sword, Rose, and… everyone else.
“When did everyone arrive?” I asked stupidly.
“They started trickling in when you began beating the trio up.” Lolidragon shrugged.
I smiled awkwardly at all of them. “Uh, hello guys.”
“Pfft!” Yun suddenly burst out laughing… Hey, what’s wrong with you, guys don’t go “pfft”, only girls do that! What business do you, a grown man, have laughing like that? “Dàgē, how come you’re becoming more and more stupid? In the beginning, you were even the picture of sternness.”
I aimed a flying kick at him. Exposing my cover? Are you courting death? After kicking him, I smoothed my clothes, and gestured at the four people I was about to introduce to everyone. “This is Gu Yun Fei, a barrier master; Lu Jing, an exorcist; Sunshine, a mage; and Kenshin, a warrior.”
Yun, who had been thrown to the floor by my kick, looked sullen before posing like a mermaid. “Hi everyone, I’m the Gu Yun Fei who’s always bullied by dàgē.”
“I’m Lu Jing. I’m really happy to meet everyone,” Jing posed shamelessly in a cutesy manner in front of the crowd.
“I’m Sunshine, pleased to meet you,” Sunshine smiled elegantly with a tinge of warmth.
“Kenshin,” Kenshin said curtly.
Seeing as all four had finished their self-introductions, I guessed that it was time for me to introduce everyone else to them. But… I counted the amount of people present, and decided to forget about the introductions. I said carelessly, “You guys mingle slowly and get acquainted with each other.”
“Prince, the comrades you’ve brought back this time are extremely talented!” Wolf-dàgē patted my head fondly.
“Of course they’re strong; you don’t know how much time and effort I’ve spent on them!” I sighed, misty-eyed, thinking back to that time…
I had finished the arduous climb up the highest peak, Azure Mountain, only to find the three old prophets standing in front of the stone monument, saying, “Come on! Young one, if you defeat us, you can become the Demon King…” Ah, that’s not right! Defeat them, and they would give me a pile of dung. I stared at it, face full of disbelief, as I thought, What would I need a pile of dung for? I’m not planting any crops, so I don’t need fertilizer, right?
“The main point of this mission is to give you a Great Returning Pill. The stone monument’s name and the prophecies are extras,” Kenshin explained slowly. Seeing the disgusted look on my face as I looked at the pile of ‘Returning Pills’, Kenshin added, “If you eat the Great Returning Pill, your experience points will be multiplied by ten during a period of three days.”
“Oh? That’s quite impressive,” I smiled nicely at the three old farts. Respect to the elderly was an alien thought at the moment.
Kenshin and I gave the three old farts a good beating before taking the dung and stone monument down the mountain along with us, finding there the two familiar people who were in the midst of a good barbeque.
“The two of you share this pile of dung and then we’ll go to the Ghost Cove and train.” I snatched away the aromatic freshly-roasted meat and, ignoring the shocked expressions on their faces, force-fed them a half of the pile each. Seeing that both of them had fainted immediately after, Kenshin and I had no choice but to carry one each and rush back to Ghost Cove.
When we returned to Ghost Cove, I struggled for what seemed like forever at Broken Cliff before being kicked down by an impatient Kenshin… After saving Sunshine, we helped Jing and Yun to train like mad at Ghost Cove. With the help of the Great Returning Pill, both of them managed to level up nearly 15 levels. Lastly, we used Sunshine’s flying carpet to hurry back to Infinite City. Because I was afraid that we wouldn’t make it back in time, I had even threatened the carpet, forcing it to fly at a breakneck speed… If it didn’t, I would have used it as an entrance mat at Infinite City, free for all passers-by to clean their shoes on.
Sigh! These two life-long friends of mine and the two NPCs who had gained self-awareness spent a lot of my time and effort! Ah well, the end justifies the means.
I stopped reminiscing and looked back at everyone else, only to notice that they all looked frustrated yet were at a loss of what to do. When I followed their gaze I saw… Ice Phoenix! Ah, I sighed, I had already promised Nan Gong Zui that I’d take care of his god-sister, plus Lolidragon has also told me to take Phoenix under my wing, so it looks like I can’t escape this matter anymore.
“Phoenix…” I affixed an angst-ridden expression on my face and walked toward Phoenix.
Phoenix yelled at me in panic. “Don’t come over here!”
I stopped in mid-step and softly said one line. “I didn’t know you hated me that much.”
“No, no, it’s just that you…” Phoenix didn’t know what to say for a while, and then she started crying.
I actually made Phoenix cry! I became flustered too. At a time like this, what should I do? In the midst of the panic and disorder, I seemed to hear Lolidragon whisper, “Go and hug her, you idiot.”
Roar! Easy for you to say! But seeing that Phoenix was crying so miserably, I could only bury my sighs deep in my heart and hug Phoenix gently, while consoling her. “It’s alright, don’t cry, no one will blame you.”
At first, Phoenix struggled in my arms, but the more she struggled the tighter I held her until she was finally snug in my embrace, weeping her heart out.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean it, b-because Fan he- he begged me, and I still can’t forget him…” Phoenix wailed her explanations out in my arms.
Was I too merciful to Fan, to just let him off like that? Ay, I’m becoming less and less bloody; next time I will improve!
“It’s okay, you can start forgetting now. If you think of him, you can just come and hug me.” As I spoke, I stroked Phoenix’s long hair; I was beginning to understand why men love girls with long-hair; smooth and fragrant, long hair is really a pleasure to touch indeed.
“Prince…” Phoenix shyly buried her face in my chest until only two red ear tips were visible.
“Hmm?” I lifted my nose out from Phoenix’s silky hair and realized that I really shouldn’t have looked up, as I immediately noticed three vengeful spirits… Gui was being held up by Wolf-dàgē in mid-air with his legs kicking out at the air; Wicked was held back by Zui and White Bird, his eyes blood-shot; Fairsky was being pulled back by Rose and Broken Sword, so angry that her cheeks were puffed up.
I broke out in a cold sweat and stiffened – Phoenix obviously noticed that too as she lifted her head up shyly. She then noticed the three vengeful spirits… Her expression changed; she looked at me with a strange resolve… Ugh, I suddenly had a very bad premonition, and while my instincts have never been right about good predictions, they’re superb when it comes to the bad.
“Prince, if you really accept me, then kiss me.” Phoenix closed her eyes and lifted her head high, every inch the picture of a maiden waiting to be ravished.
Ugh… I was right again. Kissing her would be no problem at all, since I’ve already kissed more interesting people – for girls I’ve kissed my own cousin, for guys I’ve kissed the game’s NPC, Kenshin. What more could frighten me? However, if I were to kiss her in front of the three angry spirits, I’ll never have another peaceful day. Gui would cry until the Great Wall of China falls down3, Wicked would nag to me about girls’ chastity, and Fairsky would go crazy; she might even challenge Phoenix to a duel.
In my hesitation, Phoenix had already opened her tear-filled eyes, but she was doing her utmost to hold back those tears. How… extremely heart-wrenching!
I made my decision. No longer hesitant, I lifted her shocked face, and kissed her roughly.
“Snake kiss4, Prince, give her a snake kiss, then she’ll really be yours, heart and soul.” Lolidragon seemed unusually excited as she cheered us on in the sidelines.
Snake kiss? What’s a snake kiss? Kissing a snake? I was baffled.
“Stick your tongue in Phoenix’s mouth and move it around; that’s a snake kiss.” Lolidragon’s voice rang out in the PM channel.
Oh…. I did as I was instructed, and stuck my tongue into Phoenix’s mouth and moved it around… Finally, when I ran out of breath, I stopped the snake kiss, and licked my own lips, wondering Had Phoenix eaten some candy? Why does her mouth taste sweet?
“So stimulating…” Lolidragon said dumbly. I shot her a glance, thinking, Lolidragon, even if you want to try it out, please don’t look so eager! Have some self-restraint, alright?
I looked down to see how Phoenix was faring, only to see that her eyes had already formed two giant hearts and her entire body was limp, remaining upright only through the support of my two arms… How could this be? I only felt that it was a little numbing, and sweet! I scratched my cheek and decided not to think about it any further. As long as I could seduce Phoenix away from Fan, all was well! But I still have the problem of the three vengeful spirits to deal with!
I handed a still-swooning Phoenix to her sister, White Bird, and moved toward the team of resentful spirits who were standing like statues, frozen to the ground with shock at what I had just done. First, I walked to Fairsky’s side and smiled at her. She couldn’t help but to smile back, then… I repeated my actions and gave her a good snake kiss. Looking at another heart-shaped-eyed girl in my arms, I suddenly felt that it was extremely fun!
I threw Fairsky over to Rose and turned my head to look towards the two men. I frowned. I don’t mind kissing girls, but if it’s men… After all, I’m a young maiden; it wouldn’t seem too good if I did that, right? But, I really want to know if kissing guys or girls feels more comfortable.
“Prince, your highness….” Gui’s tears had already formed two waterfalls, and his voice was full with grief.
I was thinking, Okay, I’ll kiss him once, seeing that he’s so pitiful…But just as I was about to walk toward him, and Gui looked extremely ecstatic when…
“You’re not allowed to kiss him; I’ll leave the issue of you kissing girls alone, but… You! Must! Not! Kiss! Gui!” Wicked’s flames of wrath were strong, almost to the point of materializing. I stopped walking, for the safety of my life, and shrugged at Gui.
“Wicked, what quarrel do you have with me?” Gui’s eyes were full of pain and anger.
“Hatred as deep as Blood Sea5!” Wicked glared right back.
I turned around, no longer caring about the brawling duo and stretched lazily, only to find out that… I was hungry. “Lolidragon, I’m hungry.”
Lolidragon looked unfazed, as if she already knew that was coming. “The food has already been prepared, and you can familiarize yourself with the new members White Bird, her husband Outside Window, Feng Wu Qing’s ‘parents’, and so on while you are eating.”
“Feng Wu Qing’s ‘parents’?” I emphasized on the word ‘parents’. If I’m not wrong, doesn’t Feng Wu Qing have the same parents as me?
“Yeah, this time in the siege, Feng Wu Qing’s ‘parents’ helped out a lot, plus they’ve already decided to settle down in Infinite City,” said Lolidragon, emphasizing the word ‘parents’ as I had.
“…” My shoulders slumped down; I had just managed to get out of one storm, when another one comes – I was beginning to suspect that I hadn’t yet made my peace with any unhappy deities somewhere.
I followed Lolidragon to the dining room…and started sweating like mad. Is there someone getting married? How come it looks like a wedding feast?! I could only see row upon row of lanterns and ribbons, all with a red theme color, and counted scores of round tables with everyone sitting in their proper places, all wide-eyed with excitement, watching my entrance. Suddenly I felt as if Lolidragon and I were the long anticipated bride and groom. I even looked back to check if there was a giant ‘Congratulations’ stuck to the wall behind me.
What the…? That’s what I get for turning back to look; it’s unknown whether the word was painted on with coloring or whether it was actual blood. It looked like it had just been written because it was still dripping.
“Liege Lord, would you like to go over the city’s operations or finances first?” An unfamiliar face… This should be the White Bird that Lolidragon was talking about! She was holding a thick stack of paper, blocking my way toward my lovely dining table, her expression respectful yet not too humble.
“Let’s eat first!” I waved my hand; nothing is more important than my wonderful food.
Upon hearing that, White Bird put away the papers in her hand and said, “Yes, my Lord. Then would you please announce the commencement of dinner?”
I rubbed my nose; I wasn’t used to being addressed so politely. “Everyone, it’s time to eat.”
The quiet crowd suddenly roared back to life, and I too was eager to sit down and enjoy my exquisite meal of… White rice, meat floss, and egg soup? I blinked but it was still those three things. It can’t be… Are those appetizers? “Lolidragon, these are…”
“Main dishes.” Seemingly knowing what I was thinking, Lolidragon replied without a moment’s hesitation.
“This…,” The corner of my mouth cramped as I recalled Zhuo-gēge telling me something about Infinite City’s financial woes. But is it really this bad?
“What’s the matter? The person who spent 5000 crystal coins taking a ship to Eastern Continent isn’t satisfied with the food?” Yu Lian-dàsăo’s warm voice rang out, but I felt like I’d fallen into an ice pit and couldn’t stop shivering.
“These dishes are wondrous; I haven’t had such, such healthy food in ages!” To prove my point, I even lifted up my rice bowl and started shoveling huge amounts of plain rice into my mouth.
Yu Lian-dàsăo gave a small smile once again. “Prince should have been rather well-fed during this trip, right?”
Right… I started sweating violently. Suddenly, I had an inspiration that I hoped would save my skin; I snatched up my backpack and dug out a gleaming red ruby (Remember which one this was? The one on a certain someone’s large door… I had hacked it down before leaving.) I presented it with shaking hands. “Dàsăo, this is little brother’s small gift of appreciation, please accept it.”
Yu Lian-dàsăo signaled for Phoenix to take the ruby. Phoenix actually…sniffed the ruby before saying, “3000 crystal coins.”
Oi, you’re a phoenix, not a dog…yet you sniff?
Yu Lian-dàsăo used her eyes to cue Lolidragon next, who threw down her chopsticks hurriedly to say in a calm and dignified manner, “Prince, because of the city’s economy crisis, we’ve decided to send you out to earn money.”
I pointed to my own nose, face full of shock, thinking Me? Earn money? Spending it all is more likely… What if! What if they really want me to work as something like a male host? I paled and asked, “How am I going to do that?”
Doll suddenly broke out in a radiant smile, “Prince-gēge is so good-looking.”
Lolidragon nodded. “Plus Blood Elf’s name is so well-known.”
I’m done for, I’m done for; they really want me to work as a male host? My first part time job and I have to sell my body? No way, this will never do, if news of this spreads, how am I, a little maiden, supposed to continue living? It’s impossible… But – I eyed Yu Lian-dàsăo’s widening smile… Ugh, I’ll at most be a male escort, selling my smile and not my body; I can still tolerate that… I looked at Yu Lian-dàsăo’s smiling face again… Ugh, at the very most, I’ll accept selling my body to ‘beauties’.
“According to what Lolidragon said, you can sing rather well?” Wolf-dàgē suddenly asked out of the blue.
I was stunned. Do I sing well? I turned toward to Lolidragon, face full of puzzlement.
“Didn’t you sing ‘It’s My Life’ to me before?” Lolidragon lifted an eyebrow. “I dare say that at the very least you’re a match for the original singer.”
“Prince, you sing, and I’ll help you to play the accompaniment!” Gui raised up his guqing and started tuning.
Use a guqing to play rock and roll songs? We’d better not, right? Even if the original singer didn’t turn in his grave, the guqing string would surely break… But, looking at the anticipation in the eyes of the crowd, I was too embarrassed to say no, so I had no choice but to discuss the choice of songs with Gui. “Let’s change it to a song with more sentimental feelings, that one isn’t very suited for accompaniment on guqing.”
“Which one then?” Gui asked.
I didn’t need to think twice, “Dreams Want to Fly.”
As Gui played the first note, I too immersed myself in the song’s lyrics. I opened my mouth and sang:
Dreams want to fly
Flying with wings wouldn’t be amazing any longer, feathers are too soft
Dreams are heavy and burdening, nothing seems more difficult than taking-off
I jump, I leap, I will try
I fall, I’m hurt, I pity myself
Crossing over heart, over hardships, but not over feelings,
Taking the final step, hurting myself, hurting others, but I can’t hurt eternity,
Legends, created with sadness, bitterness and sorrow
Touched only by wanting to fly, and flying
Dreams want to fly
<Dreams Want to Fly> by Yu Wo
I stopped singing, took a deep breath, and came back to reality. When I opened my eyes again, everyone in the audience seemed absorbed in my singing. I could only scratch my cheek; did I really sing that well?
Yu Lian-dàsăo was the first to open her eyes; they shone with bright excitement as she said, “We’ve struck gold!”
“Huh?” What does she mean? How come I feel so uneasy again, especially after spotting my parents sitting at the table to my left, looking like they’re deep in thought? My heart started racing at the thought.
[½ Prince Volume 4 Chapter 2 End]
1 Cold arrows: A term in Chinese that literally means sneaky attacks using arrows.
2 Red packets: These are mainly presented at social and family gatherings such as weddings or on holidays such as the Lunar New Year. The red color of the envelope symbolizes good luck and is supposed to ward off evil spirits. The act of requesting for red packets is normally called (Mandarin): 討紅包, 要利是. (Cantonese):逗利是. A married person would not turn down such request as it would mean that he or she would be “out of luck” in the new year. In keeping with Chinese customs, newly wedded couples are also usually expected to be extremely generous with the amount offered in the red packets, so as to receive blessings for a blissful marriage. See wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_envelope) for more information.
3 “…cry until the Great Wall of China falls down”: There’s a story about this saying. The building of Great Wall of China caused a lot of people’s deaths so the people in ancient China were unwilling to go build it. However, the emperor of that time forced the men to leave their homes to build the Great Wall. A woman called Meng Jiang Nv had just married when her husband was forced to go build the Great Wall, and he died. Legend said Meng Jiang Nv cried days and nights under the Great Wall after her husband death until the unfinished part of Great Wall was shaken and fell down.
4 Snake kiss: Snake kiss is pronounced the same in Chinese as ‘tongue kiss’…which, as you can guess, is a French kiss.
5 “Hatred as deep as the Blood Sea”: Usually this phrase is used for a really deep hatred, for example when the enemy had killed your parents…hence the blood sea part. The blood sea part also can mean that you hate your enemy so much that you want to see his blood flowing out so much that it can form a ‘sea’.