½ Prince Volume 4: The Buskers of Infinite City
Original novel in Chinese by: 御我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 3: The Busking Tour Group – translated by PR!
“You want me to be a singer, and have a concert?” I began to feel slightly dizzy. What on earth is everyone thinking? Aren’t I the Lord of the city? How did I turn into a singer?
“Yeah, just take a look at yourself.” Lolidragon shoved a mirror at me. “Look at that invincible, super-duper handsome face and tall, perfectly proportioned body. Look at that cool and elegant poise (as long as you don’t open your mouth), plus those power vocals! If you don’t sell your bo— I mean, records, isn’t that a heinous waste of natural resources?”
I glanced at Lolidragon, wondering if I had heard her beginning to say ‘body’. “But, this is an online game. Who becomes a singer in a game, and actually holds concerts?”
“And has a photo-shoot,” Lolidragon added, and whereupon catching me paling at an alarming rate, quickly quipped, “Don’t worry, we won’t have you bear it all; at most just a little, little bit…”
“A little, little bit?” I asked with a hint of suspicion. “Really just a little, little bit?”
“Yeah, a little, little bit!” Lolidragon laughed with deep sincerity. I later found out that Lolidragon’s ‘a little, little bit’ had two ‘little’s in it, so in her mind that defined two particular little bits…1 Lolidragon, who on earth taught you your Chinese?
“Wait a minute, this isn’t the point! How am I supposed to become a singer? I’m not even a bard,” I retorted.
Lolidragon lifted an eyebrow. “When did you start being concerned over what we can and can’t do in the game? Do what you feel like doing—isn’t that your style? The crux is in whether you want to do it or not.”
That gave me some pause. Before… Yeah, I think I really did whatever I wanted to do. A singer… I tilted my head to the side. Sounds rather interesting! In the end I laughed aloud. “Alright, being a singer seems rather tempting.”
“Great, now let me think… First off, you guys will have to tour through the three cities of Sun, Moon, and Star in order to publicize and make a name for yourselves. —And earn some money while you’re at that,” Lolidragon added hurriedly upon catching Yu Lian-dàsăo’s brilliant smile. Seeing that her smile had warmed a little, Lolidragon heaved a sigh of relief and continued, “Lastly, after you gain popularity, come back to Infinite City to hold a concert. This is because, one, we can earn money from that and, two, it can help us boost Infinite City’s population. It’s definitely killing two birds with one stone.”
I thought for a while, before asking, “So do I have to bring Gui along as my musical accompaniment?”
Hearing this, Gui’s eyes lighted up immediately. “Can I follow His Highness Prince, please?”
“Not only Gui—I think we have to look for a few other people and form a band,” Lolidragon said. “After all, Second Life has no audio tracks that we can make use of.” She hesitated. “I don’t know if Second Life’s craftsmen can make things like instruments, though…”
“I don’t know about drums, but they can make guitars,” Fairsky suddenly blurted out. She stuck a hand into her bag and drew out a guitar. “I have one.”
“You know how to play the guitar?” Lolidragon’s eyes shone.
Fairsky nodded regally. “Of course. I’ve been learning for ten years; I play really well.”
“Great, we’ve got one more member!” Lolidragon noted down happily.
I chowed down on my meat floss2 on rice mixed with scrambled egg soup, slightly dubious over whether people could mix guitars and guqins together. Whatever. Anyway, I’m only responsible for singing, so I’ll leave the rest up to Lolidragon! Hmm…meat floss scrambled egg porridge doesn’t taste bad!
“I want to go too,” Wicked said coldly, glaring at Gui. “I won’t let Gui have the chance to be alone with Prince.”
“You—!” Gui clenched his fists in anger.
“Can you play any instruments?” Lolidragon asked with great interest. Her eagerness for more chaos was written across her face.
“The Chinese flute3,” Wicked answered simply.
Wow, that’s just great. Guqin, guitar, and the Chinese flute? That’s a mix comparable to the bowl of messy things in my hand.
“And me!” Phoenix said hurriedly, seeing that three of the four admirers of Prince had already joined.
“And what can you play?”
“I can play the drums, and have been at it for ten years too,” Phoenix boasted, irking Fairsky who was at her side. “I’ll look for craftsmen to make a drum set for me immediately. They can definitely do it!”
“Okay, Gui plays the guqin, Wicked the Chinese flute, Fairsky the guitar, and Phoenix the drums.” Lolidragon noted that down before wrinkling her brows. “We’ll split into two groups then, with the guys being in charge of the more sentimental songs, and the girls the rock songs.”
I sighed heartily and looked into the distance. “Times have really changed. The guys are all choosing to be more sensitive, while the girls all like rock music – it seems like I’m getting old.”
Lolidragon whacked me soundly on the head and PMed to me, “That’s why you, neither female nor male, have to sing both kinds of songs!”
Ouch! With tears threatening to spill over, I pouted and muttered sullenly, “I said I’ll sing already! Why did you have to hit me on the head? I’ll become stupid!”
“Heh heh heh, so the members of Infinite Band are decided,” Lolidragon said. “Gui, get to work on the lyrics and the tunes of the songs. Wicked, get started on choreography. Prince, start memorizing the lyrics. Fairsky and Phoenix, let’s go prepare the performing costumes.” Lolidragon’s eyes shone as she grabbed the two girls and left so fast that they seemed to have teleported away.
“Gui… Do you know how to write songs?” Why didn’t I know that Gui knew how to compose music and lyrics?
Gui’s expression was extremely troubled. “Me? I’ve never written a song before.”
We sunk in silence for a moment, then I turned to Wicked harboring a tiny glint of hope. “You know how to dance?”
“Yeah,” Wicked replied, and my hope blossomed. “I’ve folk-danced before.”
My heart chilled abruptly, turning as cold and hard as a frozen fish that could be used as a murder weapon.
Lolidragon suddenly stuck her head back into the room, “If you guys don’t do well, you’ll be kicked out of Infinite Band. Prince is the exception, but if he doesn’t do well, he can only eat plain rice for all his meals.” After saying that, she drew her head back to wherever she had come from.
Two bulging veins throbbed on my forehead. If my heart was as cold as a frozen fish before, it was a volcano now. Damn that Lolidragon, always using food to threaten me! Don’t let me find any of your weaknesses, or I’ll @#^&%!* you! (Due to excessive violence, this phrase was censored so that the author would not be banned by the writing community!)
In the days following this event, a particular literature professor was seen determinedly reading elementary school music textbooks while giving lectures on the history of literature. What was more ridiculous was that he actually managed to make sense in his teaching. Hey! Genius shouldn’t be used like that! Besides that, another particular icy hunk would suddenly break into dance hip-hop, waltz, and even Taiwanese opera while conducting experiments in his post-graduate class, leading people to suspect that the experiments had somehow messed with his brain. It had even instigated an ongoing investigation.
As for me, because the songs were not done yet, I was forced to train my vocals, singing ‘Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti’ continuously. Lolidragon, Fairsky, and Phoenix also kept hauling me away for measurements, or for impromptu fashion shows in which I was the model. Originally, as a girl, I quite liked picking out clothes, but every time I changed into a new suit, I had to face the lecherous eyes of three female perverts. That’s not fun at all, especially when I realized that the amount of cloth was rapidly declining… I ran away in panic.
However, after I ran away, and when they failed in getting Wicked to participate in their ‘fashion shows’, they eventually got hold of defenseless Gui and were making him wear swimming trunks… What? How would I know? What rubbish; how could I miss out on such eye-candy?
All in all, Infinite Band had thus come into existence, and the first song, dance-steps, and costumes were soon ready.
The first rehearsal made its debut in the square of Infinite City.
I wore a black and red themed, skin-tight suit that exposed half of my shoulder plus arm and long boots, oozing sex appeal while looking cool. Behind me were two sexy beauties dressed in the same theme, with one wearing a mini-skirt and the other hot-pants. In her short boots, Fairsky was as feisty and pretty as a dancing fire, while in high heels, Phoenix was as sophisticated and cool as cold ice. With both of them trailing behind me, we stepped onto the makeshift stage.
Looking at the pairs of longing eyes below the stage, I felt a sudden urge to sing my heart out, to satisfy both the audience’s and my own desires. I closed my eyes, thought about the first song Gui had written and submerged myself in the lyrics of the song. It was highly emotional, and I began to sing in a high and powerful voice bearing a tinge of sorrow, like how the moth is attracted to flame.
You laugh, you cry, your every action is my Bible that I recite with care.
I’m happy, I’m sad, I give up my freedom in life for you, I want to be directed by you.
You are fire, you are wind, you are a devil weaving a web, a temptation from the angels.
From: Swallowtail Butterfly
Lyric and song by: Ah Xin (a singer in the famous Chinese band, May Day).
I sung, accompanied by Phoenix’s strong drum-beats and Fairsky’s wild guitar chords, dancing Wicked’s sensually choreographed dance, just as if I were the moth that was flying to the flame, singing out my swan song, surrendering my body to passionate love without a care.
When the song was done, the people under the stage looked intoxicated. It seems like I really can sing rather well! I thought happily.
“This song doesn’t seem as well-sung as Dreams Want to Fly!” Lolidragon said with a frown.
Her comment hit me on the head like a giant iron hammer; I looked at Lolidragon tearfully, wailing, “How can that be? I’ve practiced this song for a long time!”
“Maybe you’re lacking in emotion.” Lolidragon glanced at Gui. “It’s very obvious that you’ve never been in love, especially the one-sided, bitter-sweet sort.”
As Lolidragon spoke, Gui’s expression darkened. In the end, he opened his mouth and sang the same song. (To avoid the suspicion that I’m filling in the words for more money, the lyrics have been removed…)4
Even though we had sung the same song, the depth of emotions conveyed had such a huge difference. I understood what Lolidragon had said about ‘lacking in emotion’ – I didn’t know how complicated Gui’s voice could be, so sad yet determined, so hurt yet sweet, especially when he was staring at me. I almost, almost did not dare look in his eyes; I was afraid that if I did, if I was not careful, I might…anger Wicked further, whose glare had gone beyond freezing point. If Gui had made a single movement, Wicked would have started making human meat buns.
Especially with those two women behind me, who were equally eager to make human meat buns… You’ve got to be joking! Only I can thrash Gui, other people don’t even need to think about it!
Thinking about that, it seemed like a long time since I had last beaten Gui up… I summoned a warm smile, and spoke in my warmest tone, “Gui, teach me how to sing.”
“Yes, Your Highness!” Gui ran toward me with a touched expression, and I too watched him run toward me with happiness, before carrying him up with a single hand. Leaving behind a “I’m off to practice”, I dragged Gui into a random room and— Heh heh heh!
“In any case, we’d best up the pace of our practice. We’re going to kick you off to the three cities to for your tour within a week, maximum. Remember not to ruin the reputation of Infinite City,” Lolidragon nagged at the remaining members of the Infinite Band.
One day, after finishing singing practice, I suddenly had the feeling that I had been ignoring a certain four people that I had brought to the city. I wonder what’re they up to? Feeling a little guilty, I PM-ed them.
“Jing, Yun? Where are you guys?” I asked with a bit of worry.
Yun replied immediately in high spirits, “We’re picking out a house!”
“Picking out a house?” I paused.
“Yeah, as a citizen of Infinite City, Gui said we can buy property for half-price here!” Yun said excitedly.
“After selling the ship ticket that we didn’t use, plus a bit of our savings, we can buy a rather nice place!” Jing couldn’t hold in her excitement either. “That’s why we went to choose a house now; if we wait until Infinite City opens its gates officially, we’ll be competing for houses with a lot of people.”
“Ohhh, so should I get started choosing a house soon too?” I asked urgently, but then I remembered that all of my money had been taken away by Yu Lian-dàsăo. Ugh, I can’t afford a house! Don’t tell me I, as Lord of this city, will have to live on the streets?
Yun asked me in a funny tone, “Dàgē, you should be staying at the palace, right? What do you need a house for?”
Jing, on the other hand, sounded as if she didn’t know whether to cry or to laugh, “Dàgē, Odd Squad, Dark Emperor, Rose Team, Nan Gong Zui, and so on, all the important people in Infinite City, stay in the palace. You’re the Lord; you can’t be expected to use money from your own pocket to stay outside, right?”
“Oh, so that’s how it is,” I realized. “Tell me when you guys are done choosing a house, and remember to invite me over sometime!”
“Of course!” Yun replied.
I suddenly remembered my other question. “Oh yeah, do you know where Sunshine and Kenshin are?” I asked.
“They seem to be at Infinite Inn a lot.” Jing thought for a while. “If not, they’d be walking around Infinite City.”
“I’ll go look for them then,” I said as I started to worry. After Jing and Yun pick their houses, what’s going to happen to Kenshin and Sunshine? Where are they going to stay? I don’t have extra money to help them buy property… I scratched my face and decided that, at most, they would move in with me! I don’t think I’ll be using my rooms a lot anyway.
I ran hurriedly to the inn, immediately spotting the duo sitting together and drinking tea. I sat down, grabbed Kenshin’s tea, and gulped it down, before asking in a calm tone, “How’ve you been these days?”
Kenshin glared at the cup in my hands, then took another cup without a word and poured himself a new cup of tea. Meanwhile Sunshine replied, smiling, “We’re fine. We’ve been walking around this city, people-watching and drinking tea here.”
“That sounds so boring!” I felt guilty for bringing them over and then neglecting them. “Why don’t you guys come with me on the concert tour? This way you’ll get to see other cities.”
“A concert tour?” Sunshine looked perplexed.
I scratched my head in embarrassment. “A concert tour is putting it nicely. Actually, we’re just busking in the three cities.”
“Busking?” Again, Sunshine looked confused.
“Singing songs on the streets,” I explained again.
“Why do you want to sing on the streets?” Sunshine asked with an elegant smile.
“To earn money…” Huh, how come I feel like I’ve met another Meat Bun?
“Why do you want to earn money?” Sunshine asked tirelessly.
I shot a glance at Kenshin who was doing nothing. “Well, why don’t you ask Kenshin? I’m not very sure of this myself.”
Sunshine frowned. “When I ask questions, Kenshin doesn’t reply.”
I looked at the silent Kenshin and kind of understood why he kept his silence. If I were to be alone with Sunshine for several months, I think even a chatter-box like me would learn the meaning behind “silence is golden”. I started to think that maybe the noisy Yun and overly-curious Sunshine would get along nicely.
“Anyway, just follow me on the tour,” I changed the topic.
Sunshine gave me another warm smile. “Okay.”
“Those two people have been looking like they want to come over and talk for a while already,” Kenshin spoke up suddenly, pointing behind my right shoulder.
“Oh?” I turned to look, and immediately stiffened. I couldn’t move, because the two people who were mirrored in my eyes were my two good-for-nothing, play-the-entire-day-away-without-cooking-or-working parents.
They became very excited when they saw me turn around and started waving their hands at me frantically while running over to my table. My mom looked super excited as she started speaking. “How are you, Lord? Do you remember us? We once met at the Adventurers’ Tournament and our son is Feng Wu Qing of Dark Emperor!”
Yeah, and your daughter’s the Lord of Infinite City too. How could I forget my mom and dad? I thought helplessly, whilst still plastering a smile on my face. “Of course. You’re Lovely-dovey Husband and Lovely-dovey Wife, right?”
“See, hubby, the Lord really remembers us!” My mom looked touched as she said that.
“I told you! How could the Lord forget us? Think about the day of the siege, and how full of vigor, all-powerful, and almost godly the Lord was! He scared the enemies so much that they lost control of their bowels and immediately knelt and surrendered. A Lord like this could hardly forget us!” My dad thumped the table emphatically.
“Don’t- don’t get too excited,” I said hurriedly, thinking, Almost godly? I really want to know which god descends like how I had when I fell from the carpet.
Dad rubbed his head rather apologetically. “I’m sorry, I got too worked up. But the Lord really is great! My wife and I willingly accept our loss; our past grudges are all forgotten.”
Forgotten is fine, forgotten is fine. I heaved a sigh of relief.
“And the Lord isn’t just good at martial arts, even his voice is wonderful!” My mom said, looking at me with a bright smile.
“Not really.” I put on a smile as well.
“But Xiao Lan, don’t you like It’s My Life the most? Why didn’t you sing that, or sing your second favorite, Dreams Want to Fly, instead?” Mom asked, puzzled.
“Oh, that’s because the guqin isn’t suited to rock music, so I had to choose something more sentimental,” I replied while smiling.
“Oh, so that’s why!” The three of us laughed, our smiling expressions surprisingly similar.
“Prince, your nickname is Xiao Lan?” Kenshin quipped from the side.
My smile froze, as I finally realized what my mom and dad had said. My eyes popped and I sweated a few buckets of cold sweat before I swallowed with difficulty and looked at the two grinning people.
“You, I, no—” I stuttered.
“Don’t deny it, Xiao Lan. Do you think that the part of our brains that recognizes people is naturally retarded, like Yang Ming?” Mom’s voiced floated over the PM channel.
“How did you find out?” I asked, a little put out.
“It’s very simple,” Dad explained gleefully. “First, Yang Ming said that you were a tranny in Second Life (Stupid brother, your mouth is too big!). Second, Ling Bin likes Xiao Lan, but he pesters Prince in the game – taking that guy’s stubborn nature into account, the chances of him two-timing you is below zero, so the most likely conclusion is that Prince and Xiao Lan are the same person in the first place. Third, Xiao Lan, you’re always singing those two songs, so who wouldn’t recognize that voice? Uh…except for my stupid son, Yang Ming.”
I paused for a second, before coming out with only more questions. “What did you say? Zhuo-gēgē likes me? Doesn’t he like Yang Ming?”
Mom and Dad paused for a while, too. “Ling Bin likes Yang Ming? How is that possible? Doesn’t he pester you a lot?”
“Zhuo-gēgē only wants to protect me, right?” I questioned stupidly. According to what I had concluded before, isn’t Zhuo-gēgē competing against Gui for my brother’s affections? Huh? That’s strange… Then why are they always sticking to me in the game, and not Feng Wu Qing?
My dad and mom were stunned… And then my mom fell into my dad’s arms, sobbing. “Hubby! Why are both our children so retarded?”
“Ay, it must be because we forgot to pray to the fertility goddess before they were born.” My dad shook his head, sighing.
“So does Zhuo-gēgē like Yang Ming after all?” I titled my head to one side, biting my fingers while deep in thought.
“Of course not!” my dad and mom yelled in unison. My mom even grabbed my ear (Ow ow ow!) and shouted, “You shouldn’t let down his devotion! Ling Bin has liked you for eight years! He’s a top scholar, and a hunk to boot. If you don’t bring him home and get married to him, who’re you going to marry?”
I snatched back my own ear, rubbing it morosely, “Zhuo-gēgē has liked me for eight years? Then…” I suddenly recalled the fight between Zhuo-gēgē and Gui— Could it be that the person they were fighting over wasn’t Yang Ming? It was me?!
“Say, are you going to bring that hunk Ling Bin back so mom can have some eye candy?” Mom had my poor ear back in her pincer-grip again.
Mom, you’ve finally shown your true colors! “But, but, I don’t know if I like Zhuo-gēgē or not!” I replied helplessly. “And if I marry Zhou-gēgē, Gui will definitely cry until the Great Wall falls down.”
“Gui?” Mom batted two large, innocent eyes. “Is that the drool-worthy hunk of a bard?”
“Yeah, and he’s my university’s professor!” Hey! Mom, it isn’t good to drool over other guys in front of your husband… Even though dad seems to have gotten used to your fetish for pretty boys.
“A professor! Really?” Mom’s face filled with longing, before she blinked her eyes at me. “He’s handsome too. A different type from Ling Bin, but both are undeniable hunks that can feed you for life. Ahaha, not bad, not bad, Xiao Lan! Just choose either of them; Mommy has no objections.”
Of course you are fine with any hunk as your eye candy! What objections would you have? I sighed, thinking about going out soon with two guys and two girls to busk, plus the fact that they were all my admirers… Things are going to get messy.
“Anyway, mom, don’t say anything about my secret.” I looked stern. “Not even to Yang Ming. If you tell anyone, I’ll marry an ugly guy and pollute your eyes.”
Mom looked horrified. “Don’t, don’t! I swear I won’t say a word. Xiao Lan, you have to remember that you must choose one out of the two hunks to marry!”
I nodded my head tiredly. Who should I choose? Forget it, I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.
As for whether my dad would spill the beans… Have you ever heard of “hen-pecked”? What my mom says, is what my dad says! You get it now, right?
Once again snatching Kenshin’s tea, I deliberately ignored Sunshine’s “I’ve got a question” expression while rubbing my temples. Ay, it seems like things are getting out of hand.
[½ Prince Volume 4 Chapter 3 End]
1 “…defined two particular little bits”: In Chinese, it is said “exposing three bits” when the guy is exposing both his nipples and XXX. So when Lolidragon says “a little, little bit” here, she actually means the exposing Prince’s nipples.
2 Meat floss: Also called rou song in Chinese. It is a dried Chinese meat item that has a light and fluffy texture similar to coarse cotton and it is made by stewing cuts of pork in a sweetened soy sauce mixture until individual muscle fibers can be easily teased apart with a fork. This usually happens when the collagen and elastin that normally hold the fibers have been cooked out of the meat. The teased-apart meat is then strained and dried in the oven. After a light drying, the meat is mashed and beaten while being dry cooked in a large wok until it is completely dry.
3 Chinese flute: There are many different types of Chinese flutes, but the one that is being played by Wicked is called Xiao in Chinese. It is an end-blown flute and generally made from dark brown bamboo. Please refer to this link for more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xiao_%28flute%29.
4 Yu Wo started off as an internet writer. Chinese internet sites usually pay money depending on the words count. The normal rate is about 3 cents for 1000 words * the number of people who subscribe to the text.