½ Prince Volume 4: The Buskers of Infinite City
Original novel in Chinese by: 御我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 9: The Concert – translated by Evangeline and Amgine
“Prince, hurry up and get over here! The concert hall has finished being constructed.” I heard Yu Lian-dàsao’s excited and slightly distressed voice just as I came online.
“Really? I’ll come take a look.” I wonder what the hall looks like. It ought to be pretty luxurious; after all, we did spend a fortune on it. I thought to myself as I picked up my pace and dashed to the site. I was following Yu Lian-dàsao’s directions, which led me just to the left of the castle.
Everyone was waiting for me when I arrived. Barely containing my excitement, I walked closer, wishing to examine carefully the concert hall where I would be performing.
“I-Impossible…” I stammered with my jaw dropped. Heavens! This looks like something that came straight out of our textbooks… An ancient Roman coliseum?!
“Hehe, welcome to Infinite City’s— No, it should be Second Life’s, first concert hall: Infinite Rhapsody!” Yu Lian greeted with a laugh.
“This is awesome!” I said. With excitement spreading across my face, I let my eyes frantically take in the grandeur of the architecture. It was circular in shape and stood around twenty stories high. The primitive engravings on the ash-colored walls gave a rather ancient look. I walked closer to get a better view and saw that the engravings consisted of simple strokes depicting the various races holding different kinds of instruments. I ran my fingers across the engravings, unable to keep my hands off them.
“The theme of the engravings here is music,” Yu Lian-dàsao explained, “The other sides show combat, nature, and all kinds of handicrafts.”
“Prince! Don’t just stand at the doorway, getting dazzled by only the exterior. Come and take a look inside!” Wolf-dàgê said as he walked out from the door. He hurriedly dragged me through the massive double-arched passage, which was large enough for several dozen people to walk through at once.
Stepping through the door, I stared in excitement at the incredibly magnificent scene before me. As I stood in the center of the arena, looking up and around at the rows upon rows of seats that seemed to stretch into the clouds, I impulsively blurted out, “Is this really where I will be performing?”
“That’s right,” Lolidragon replied as she walked towards me, smiling sweetly. “How is it? Is the place good enough for Your Highness to perform in?”
“It’s more than enough!” I answered, blushing. “It’s ridiculously spacious! It’d be an accomplishment if the audience could even fill up one tenth of the space here.”
“Prince-gege is mistaken. This place is going to be packed to capacity,” Doll refuted as she skipped over. “Doll has sore hands from selling too many concert tickets this past week.”
“That’s right!” Yu Lian-dàsao said, nodding. “If it weren’t for the earnings from selling those tickets, we wouldn’t have had enough funds to build this hall.”
“I told you guys that Prince would draw out a large crowd,” laughed Wolf-dàgê as he slapped me on the back energetically. “Though I will admit that I didn’t predict that you’d become Second Life’s spokesperson, Prince.”
“I didn’t think that would happen either…” I shrugged helplessly.
“In any case, Prince, just settle down and become one of the highlights of Infinite City,” Yu Lian laughed heartily. An uneasy feeling formed in the bottom of my heart. Don’t tell me there’s something else they’re going to make me do?
As I was still thinking this, Yu Lian continued. “I heard the Construction Department is planning on building two bookstores. Prince, after the concert is over and the bookstores are built, you can conveniently hold an autograph session as well.”
“Oh, sure.” I sighed in relief upon hearing that it was just about an autograph session.
I turned towards the audience seating again and muttered with excitement, plus a hint of nervousness, “So this place is going to be jam-packed with people, eh…”
“Prince! Prince!” Listening to the deafening roar of the crowd coming from outside, I felt tremendously nervous. I frantically did some breathing exercises. Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out…
“Ugh, still feeling pretty nervous.” I looked helplessly at my fellow band members.
Gui was chattering like a parakeet, trying to calm me down. “Don’t be nervous, Your Highness. Just pretend that the students—er, no, the fans—are rocks, and you’ll be fine. Just perform like you normally do and it’ll be okay.” Gui looked at my pale face worriedly. I rolled my eyes in response. Don’t pretend that I didn’t hear that bit about students. So we’re nothing but rocks to you eh, Professor?!
“Just ignore them.” Wicked frowned slightly and patted me on the back in an attempt to calm my erratic breathing.
“What are you afraid of? It’s just a bunch of people, that’s all.” Fairsky threw a haughty glance towards the crowd that consisted of as many people as there were grains of sand on a beach.
“I’m a little nervous too.” Phoenix’s face was just as pale as mine. Finally, someone who is normal like me, I thought with satisfaction.
“Let’s get this show on the road! Everyone still remembers the way we make our entrance as rehearsed?” Lolidragon poked out her head suddenly, smiling a Mona Lisa-like smile at my pale complexion.
I closed my eyes once more and breathed in deeply. When my eyes snapped open, only tranquility was left on my face. “Let’s do this.”
<Passerby A’s Concert Experience>
He was one of Second Life’s professional players, but he had never thought that it would actually be possible to hold a concert in an online game. So, when he heard that Infinite City was planning to hold a concert, starring none other than the recently popular Infinite Band, he decided to set out for Infinite City to broaden his horizons.
“Damn, I had to wait five whole hours in queue before I could buy the ticket! Is this band really all that great?” he muttered to himself. He was feeling peeved by the long wait, yet he was also glad that he decided to come and witness such an epic event. How else could he have fulfilled his curiosity if he were to miss it?
There sure are a lot of attractions worth visiting in Infinite City. Seeing the crescent shaped fountain in the Central Plaza alone makes up for the price of the ticket. Moreover, the actual city itself is so opulent and majestic! I wonder how much it took to finance its construction. He admired the streets that were even wider and neater than those of the pre-programmed Sun, Star and Moon cities. The shops and markets beside the streets were all beautiful and unique in their own special way. He wondered how much it would cost to rent a shop and began calculating in his head.
But nothing could compare to the shock that the residential area gave him. Is… is this still part of a game? He gaped, wide eyed and dumbstruck, at street after street of lovely gardened mansions, all so beautiful that it was hard to even take your eyes off them. He scanned each one greedily. After browsing and coveting the last of the mansions, he heaved a long sigh and said, “I should get one of these and sell off the house I have in Moon City. Once everyone discovers how lovely these houses are, the real estate demand in the pre-programmed cities will most likely slump.”
The next day, he hurried to the concert venue at the crack of dawn, hoping to get a good seat, but he miscalculated. There was already a huge line of people in front of him.
“How long have you been waiting here?!” he asked the ones in front of him in shock.
“We came here after dinner yesterday.” The people near the end of the line said.
“We pitched our tents here right after we bought the tickets two days ago,” a group of girls in the middle replied.
“Ha! That’s nothing! I’m telling you, I watched as they built Infinite Rhapsody, brick by brick!” The man who was first in the line proudly boasted.
He was left completely speechless. With enough curiosity to kill a cat, he wondered impatiently exactly how strong the allure of Infinite Band was and what Prince, Second Life’s rumored spokesperson, was using to draw out all these fans.
“Prince! Prince!” The girls next to him were cheering so loudly that he felt like his eardrums were on the verge of rupturing. He couldn’t help but let out a sigh, wondering why he had allowed himself to be drawn into such pandemonium. It really is way too crowded, noisy, and tiresome, he thought while massaging his exhausted body. All he could do now was hope that this Infinite Band was talented enough to not make him leave disappointed.
All of a sudden, snow began falling from the sky. Startled, he examined the snowflakes as they drifted down toward him. Even the girls who had been screaming next to him just a moment before fell silent, bedazzled by the beautiful falling snow. This is probably the work of a mage, he thought to himself.
Five pillars of ice suddenly solidified, starting from the sky to the ground. As everyone was still looking up in surprise, five blurry individuals came sliding down, one from the top of each pillar. Just as they were all about to reach the ground, the ice pillars suddenly shattered into countless tiny crystals, sprinkling themselves throughout the entire coliseum. The place was completely covered in a dazzling radiance, proclaiming the arrival of these five exceptional people.
“So this is Infinite Band?” He could clearly see the five people now, and indeed each of them had their own type of charisma. There was the proud and aloof flutist, the handsome and bewitching guqin player, the sexy and sassy female guitarist, the mature yet charming female drummer, and lastly the one wearing a blood tiara, the indescribably gorgeous lead singer wearing a faint and coy smile on his face. Is that…Prince?
Prince gave a small bewitching smile, lightly raised a finger to his lips and made a small shhh-ing sound, and spoke in a laid back yet mesmerizing voice. “No need to say anything more, so let’s just start with a song.”
This life, this love, this moment squandered away
As I exhaust my color onto your skies
Your desires, your words, your every demand
Actually brings me happiness all because you are
My source of joy, my source of pain
Adapted from: Swallowtail Butterfly
Lyrics and song by: Ah Xin, MayDay
How should he describe his emotions upon hearing the sound of Prince singing? The voice was resounding and emotionally stirring, and yet it had a hint of trembling, like a butterfly humming without regret as it flutters into a fire. Moreover, the intense beat of the drums and the hearty vibrations of the guitar made his heart pound along wildly to the rhythm of the music, almost to the point of bursting apart.
After that intense experience, the first song was finally over and everyone, including him, was left completely speechless. But the craze was still shining through their eyes and drops of sweat fell as they gazed up towards the Infinite Band members onstage.
“Did you guys enjoy it?” Prince suddenly laughed without restraint, a laugh infectious enough to liberate the tense feelings in the hearts of everyone in the crowd.
“Yes! You were awesome!” someone shouted before anyone else could react, leading the entire stadium to then be filled with cheers and roars. He let his own voice join in the rumbles of the masses too.
“In that case…” Prince closed his eyes, as if pondering something. The fans in the audience, afraid to disturb his train of thought, quieted down one by one…
Prince slowly opened his eyes again, eyes that were filled with sentiment as he spoke in a gentle voice, as if whispering sweet nothings across a bed. “Love is always such a dilemma. Should you choose the one who loves you, or the one whom you love?”
The sound of the flute, hopelessly sorrowful, yet with an inkling of sweetness, suddenly reverberated throughout Infinite Rhapsody. The guqin then joined in, with an airy and flowing melody that accentuated the flute’s lonely tune. Finally, Prince’s voice emerged, low and warm, like the murmurs of a lover, completely different from the intense and resounding sound from the previous song…
In this manner, he was continually entranced by Prince’s voice, from the first, second…fifth…to the tenth song, but he still couldn’t get enough, and craved more.
“The next song will be the last one for today and is my favorite one of all: ‘It’s My Life’. Could everyone repeat with me loudly, ‘It’s My Life’?” Prince’s words brought along regret and happiness at the same time.
“…It’s my life!” As Prince sang out the final stanza, the entire crowd fell into an unprecedented and complete silence, where only the sound of heartbeats could be heard throughout the arena.
“Die, Prince!” a cold voice rang out without warning, and only a flash of silver could be seen as everyone looked up. On the stage, Prince quickly staggered back.
“You’re hurt, Prince!” From the stands, he could see the guqin player fearfully trying to step forward to take a closer look at Prince’s left arm, which was drenched in blood. A female swordmaster was glaring angrily at Prince from the opposite side.
Prince gave a wave with his hand, paying no attention to his injured left arm. He calmly said, “If I recall correctly, I don’t actually know you, so why do you want to assassinate me and ruin my concert?” As he listened from offstage, he began to tremble unconsciously. Though Prince’s tone was indifferent, an unquestionable thought was formed in his heart—Prince is angry.
“Your lover took away my beloved from me, so I am here to kill you and make that bastard feel the pain of losing a loved one.” The female swordmaster’s eyes burned like a raging inferno.
Prince blinked conspicuously, and then asked in total confusion, “My lover? Are you referring to a guy or a girl?”
The female swordmaster’s rage was enough to burn through the nine layers of heaven. “Of course he’s a guy!”
Watching from the crowd, he didn’t feel that the answer was obvious at all. He analyzed the situation, puzzled. How strange. How could it be a guy? A guy stole away your lover? What gender is your lover, then? Prince, however, did not seem to be the least bit surprised. He just scratched his head, gestured towards the guqin player and the flutist, asking, “Which one is it?”
“Guileastes, do you still remember me, sonny1?” bellowed the female swordmaster.
Gui, the guqin player who was being called out, shook his head, clueless. “Who are you?”
The female swordmaster grinded her teeth and roared again, “How dare you freaking forget about me?! Bastard, did you forget about Lovely Consort as well?!”
The color of the guqin player’s face suddenly changed. He then asked with quite a bit of hesitation, “Who are you to her?”
“Sonny, you bastard! I’m Lovely Consort’s husband. You have some nerve, forgetting about me.” The female swordmaster looked angry enough to erupt anytime.
“Lovely Consort’s husband? You are XiMen Feng2?” the guqin player asked incredulously.
“That’s right, sonny.” The female (?)3 swordmaster replied with a fiendish visage, a difficult feat, considering her elegant and exquisite face.
“How… how did you become like this?” the guqin player asked, his face pale with horror.
“It was all your fault to begin with! And what’s with all this damn chit-chat? It’s time for me to slaughter your lover, this Prince fellow,” XiMen Feng shouted. Then, he suddenly drew forth a sword to attack Prince.
The following scene would be etched into his memory forever as he watched from the sidelines. That swordmaster called XiMen Feng was indeed strong – probably around level seventy according to his own estimates. Yet, she couldn’t do anything against the completely unarmed Prince. Prince effortlessly dodged XiMen Feng’s greatsword, and even analyzed her up and down with great interest.
Prince finally couldn’t hold back any longer and asked, “You keep calling out ‘sonny’ like you’re some old man, and you say that you’re Lovely Consort’s husband, but you clearly look like a girl. So really, are you a guy or a girl?”
The female swordmaster didn’t reply, but vigorously continued to direct attacks towards Prince until her cheeks were flushed red with rage. She yelled loudly, “Bastard, are you even a man? All you do is dodge.”
“Don’t tell me you’re expecting me to stand still obediently for you to hack at,” Prince responded with a chuckle, amused.
“Exactly!” XiMen Feng bellowed with sword raised in preparation for another attack on Prince. This time, Prince actually did stand still, not budging from his original spot. Seeing Prince about to get his blood splattered all over the stage, everyone cried out in alarm… However, Prince suddenly gave a swift kick, sending the swordmaster’s blade high into the air. Next, he saw Prince actually using a roundhouse kick to send XiMen Feng out of the arena and then casually catching the sword as it fell from the sky.
Prince paid no heed to the female swordmaster who was coughing up blood furiously on the ground, her face full of hatred. He leisurely turned to face the audience and apologized with a faint smile. “I’m sorry for this interruption to the concert. I hope nobody minds. In any case, this marks the close to today’s concert. I hope everyone will continue to support Infinite Band by buying a copy of our upcoming portfolio at Infinite City’s bookstore, which should be opening very soon.”
The concert drew to a close, but he was still thinking about all that had happened as he walked through the wide streets of Infinite City. He reminisced about Infinite Band’s extraordinary performance and the even more astonishing battle skills displayed by Prince. He always thought Prince became a spokesperson only through the virtue of his face. Who knew that his display of strength could be so exciting to watch? He couldn’t help but mutter, “It really wouldn’t be a bad idea at all to become a citizen of Infinite City.”
[½ Prince Volume 4 Chapter 9 End]
1 Sonny: In Chinese, it’s actually the fencer referring to himself as “老子”, lit. “old man/father”, so he’s saying he is a generation higher, and thus deserving of respect. Basically an insult. Kind of like how white people called black men “boy” during the Jim Crow days. This insult is generally used by men only. There is a woman alternative “老娘”, lit “old lady/mother”.
2 XiMen Feng: The manhua calls him Western Wind, but we’re going with XiMen Feng since Xi Men doesn’t actually mean western; it’s just a surname.
3 (?): Yes, this was in the original and is therefore being left as is.