½ Prince Volume 5: A Prince No More
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 1: The Title of the Undefeatable King – translated by Evangeline
“Fairsky, have your feelings really changed?”
“Gee, I never realized that Sunshine was such a charmer. He had Fairsky in his grasp before we even noticed.”
As soon as we returned to Infinite City, everyone gathered around us and bombarded Fairsky and Sunshine with questions. The embarrassed and cornered couple had no choice but to answer the rush of interrogations. Everyone’s faces were grinning with their blessings for Sunshine and Fairsky. Only Lolidragon, who knew the whole story, wasn’t grinning. I spied her sighing from the corner of my eye.
“In any case, we wish the two of you all the best!” Everyone laughed joyously.
“Th-thanks everyone,” Fairsky stammered.
“Okay, that’s enough. Stop embarrassing Fairsky and Sunshine, everyone. Now come and listen to Lolidragon’s explanation of the latest patch for Second Life.” Wolf-dàgē grinned and beckoned to us.
Everyone quieted down and looked at Lolidragon, and so she started to explain the details of the patch. “The main focus of this new patch is making Second Life more realistic. Some common aspects of everyday life that weren’t necessary before are now required. For example, previously in the game, you didn’t have to shower or bathe because your body would never get dirty, but after the patch is installed, if you didn’t shower after a day of fighting, the stench would become unbearable.”
Take a bath? I suddenly remembered, Even though I am a guy, I have never seen my “manhood” before. If we have to start taking baths, wouldn’t I have to look at it? Ahem… I never thought that the first time I would see one of those things (not including the incident where I collected the dragon ones for gold), would be on myself. Whoa, I can’t even begin to explain my emotions…
“Prince, if you are afraid to wash that part of your body, I can help you! Just relax and spread your legs…” Lolidragon’s sarcastic remarks drifted over the PM channel.
“Hey!” Spread my legs?! I thought, Are you delivering a baby? I couldn’t stop myself from rolling my eyes at Lolidragon.
“But you still have to go to the toilet by yourself,” Lolidragon muttered to no one in particular.
What? I need to go to the toilet too? My mind went blank for a moment. So I would have to experience using my XXX when I go to the toilet as well?
“Second, except for the ones involved in training, the NPC population is going to be decreased. For instance, the NPC shopkeepers in the Sun, Moon and Star cities will disappear eventually and be replaced by real players.” When she saw that I was still mulling over the previous topic, Lolidragon giggled to herself and then continued her explanation. After she had finished her sentence, Yu Lian-dàsăo frowned.
“Although it wouldn’t cost any more money to hire players over NPCs, they will be harder to manage.” Yu Lian-dàsăo muttered, wondering to herself whether the patch was good or bad news.
Finally, Lolidragon uttered the most important part of the explanation. “I think the most important change in the patch is that Sun, Moon and Star City will be open for conquering by players.”
“So, the rumors are true.” Wolf-dàgē grinned. “What does everyone have in mind?”
“That’s obvious! Of course we should go and conquer them!” A spark danced in White Bird’s eyes, as if she had been waiting for this moment all her life.
“Conquer the three cities; unite the Central Continent!” Nan Gong Zui tossed down the eight words strongly. The determination and passion which shone clearly in his eyes had infected the others as well, causing everyone’s heartbeats to speed up with joy and excitement.
Ugh! Another war? Looks like my dream of getting some rest isn’t possible anymore…Sob! Why am I so unlucky?! I had just completed my work and then another pile of tasks appeared. I’m going to die from overwork!
I listened morosely to everyone else discussing how to take down the cities. Thankfully everyone knows that I am a military idiot, so it makes no difference whether or not I listen to the discussion… But, as the Liege Lord, I can’t just go and take a nap, right? Though I really do want to….
“The first thing we should do is to decide on a plan of attack. With the three cities open for conquering, there are probably a lot of other players who are planning to take them down too, but we have a very significant advantage over them – Infinite City’s military is making very quick progress these days. This is all thanks to the Infinite Band, and especially to our lord.” White Bird bowed to me graciously, which shocked me enough to make me sit upright and nod my head slightly in return. This is weird; it gives me the creeps every time I see White Bird’s respectful attitude towards me….
White Bird continued, “I think that if we take down one of the cities first, it will only be a matter of time before we conquer the other two cities as well.”
“Hmm, if we are attacking just one city, which one would be the best choice?” Broken Sword thought out loud.
“How about Moon City?” Nan Gong Zui suggested. “Moon City used to be the Righteous Blades’ base, so it’s familiar territory to us, which would be a great help in battle.”
“Yeah! Let take down Moon City!” Everyone roared excitedly.
“Moon City, is it?” I stood up, looking in the direction of Moon City. So that venerable city with the ancient Chinese themed atmosphere is also going to be baptized with the fires of war? How sad….
Lolidragon’s insensitive voice echoed out, “If you are trying to look in the direction of Moon City, then I am sorry to inform you that you are looking in the exact opposite direction.”
“…So, what should I do?” Automatically ignoring Lolidragon, I turned to ask Nan Gong Zui.
“Prince, what’s your current level?” Zui suddenly asked me.
“Let me see.” Gee, it’s been so long since I checked my own level I almost forgot that such a thing exists. I called up the system menu and read out truthfully, “Level 76!”
“Level 76? That ranks around the hundredth place in the player rankings.” Nan Gong Zui thought out loud, and then he turned to me, “I don’t think your level is high enough.”
“Of the five liege lords who won and gained their own land in each of the East, West, South, North and Central Continents, your level seems to be the lowest,” White Bird said carefully with a frown, as if she were worried that her words would anger me.
“Is that so?” I laughed foolishly. It’s not my fault! After the tournament, I went to East Continent and during the time I spent there, I was either helping Jing and Yun level up or I was running around the continent trying to solve hidden quests. I barely gained any levels during that time. What’s even worse was, during the month of the busking tour, I didn’t even manage to train half a level’s worth…. Actually, finding out that I had only dropped down to the hundredth place in the list, I should be chuckling secretly.
“Hence, my lord, please raise your level. We will arrange for some people to dedicate themselves to helping you train,” White Bird requested very politely.
“Arrange for some people? Can’t I just go train with Odd Squad?” All in all, I was more familiar with the members of Odd Squad and having our natural coordination would be best.
White Bird looked troubled. “The members of Odd Squad have important roles in the military and administrative departments, so they may not have the time to train with you.”
“Is that so?” I felt a little down. I wonder how long it has been since I last trained with everyone in Odd Squad?
“Prince, don’t be disappointed. We will come and find you once we have some free time.” Wolf-dàgē laughed and slapped me heartily on the back.
“Well, at least Gui, Wicked, and Phoenix will go with me, right?” I asked, turning toward those three.
“I want to go with His Highness–” Gui didn’t even finish his sentence before Fairsky and Sunshine gagged him and dragged him away.
“You’ve got to be kidding! The amount of work piling up in the Construction Department is enough to bury me, and yet you want to sneak out? Sunshine, make sure you grab Gui firmly; if he dares to move so much as a finger, bombard him with magic until he cannot move again!” Fairsky ordered Sunshine with self-righteous indignation, and Sunshine followed her orders obediently like a whipped husband. This harmonious couple shares such deep bonds…
“I…” Wicked had barely spoken a word when suddenly Nan Gong Zui and Broken Sword both rested their hands on his shoulder and smiled warmly. Is it just me, or are their eyes saying ‘Don’t even dream about it; you will never step out of this castle! Surrender to your fate!’
Phoenix didn’t even dare utter a single word. Though in all fairness, even I wouldn’t dare go against Yu Lian-dàsăo’s feminine prowess!
“So, I will be training alone?” I looked at the trio, the disappointment obvious in my eyes.
“Liege Lord, we will arrange for some other players to go with you,” White Bird said once again, looking slightly troubled. “But I hope that my lord can exude an aura of royalty in front of those people so as to avoid disappointing our subordinates.”
I showed a troubled expression as well and asked in confusion, “How do I exude an aura of royalty?”
“Basically, just put on your blood elf façade, and you’ll be fine,” Lolidragon explained.
“Maintaining that tiresome pose for the entire time?” I sighed. The blood elf isn’t even the real me! Why does everyone like the fake me?
“It’s an honor to train with you, Liege Lord!” Looking at the five pairs of eyes sparkling with adoration and reverence, I wondered how many times I had sighed in my mind. Luckily, XiMen Feng, who was standing to the side, wasn’t also sending looks of adoration at me. Unfortunately, his/her hateful expression wasn’t exactly soothing, either.
“By Commander White Bird’s orders, we have to give all we have in order to help our lord level up, so our first and primary focus is the Liege Lord. Does everyone understand?” the leading warrior called out to the rest.
“Of course! Our lord is the most important person, so in times of danger, I will heal the lord first. Don’t blame me if the rest of you die in the process.” The one speaking this time was, of course, a priest. The excessive reverence in his eyes made me feel that I was in the shrine of the Goddess of the Sea1.
“Don’t worry my lord, we will protect you carefully and will prevent any monster from even touching you!” The archer vowed to me with unflinching determination.
Hey! You’ll prevent any monster from touching me? How the heck am I going to level up then? I felt absolutely exasperated in my heart.
“Hmph! The Liege Lord doesn’t need protection from the likes of you; the best you could possibly do is not to be a burden to our lord.” The mage glanced past the others with a frosty glare, and then turned to fix a fiery, fervent look upon me. “After all, our lord is the strongest and undefeatable king. He has never lost before.”
“You’re right. My lord, please excuse our indiscretion.” Unexpectedly, the others weren’t angered at all. They just continued to fix their adoring gazes on me.
Undefeatable King? Are those people lying through their teeth? I couldn’t even count the number of times I had died. Plus, I even died twice in front of the audience during the tournament. Is this what you call undefeatable? Not to mention the strongest! I can’t even guarantee that I can win when fighting against Wicked or Nan Gong Zui, and don’t forget about Kenshin who could dissect me like a living specimen with a casual wave of his hand. Moreover, didn’t White Bird say that currently out of the five liege lords, my level is the lowest?
Sob! The more I think about it, the more I feel my own weakness. I better go level up! Ignoring the five adoring gazes coming from their hosts, I said blandly, “Let’s go.”
“Pretty boy, I for one, would never concede that you are undefeatable.” XiMen Feng whispered disdainfully, “One day, I will beat you, but before then, you better not lose to anyone else.”
“Yeah, yeah,” I waved my hand, irritated.
XiMen Feng snorted and then fell silent.
The serpent king, the so-called king of all snakes, is not quite a boss-level monster. However, deep in the snake abyss, there are many of these physically imposing, surprisingly strong, lightning-fast and venomous-fanged serpent kings. I decided to take on this kind of annoying monster because it would be a challenge to defeat and since I had been out of practice for so long.
After all, in a game like Second Life, it’s not all about leveling up. The most important thing is making the best use of one’s own abilities.
“This kind of monster is strong and hardly gives any experience points… Ya sure this is what you wanna take on, kid?” XiMen Feng looked at the serpent king doubtfully.
“Yep, I want to practice. The serpent king is not easy to kill and doesn’t give much experience points, so there aren’t many players here. When there isn’t anyone around to steal your prey, isn’t it the best time to cut loose and enjoy yourself?” I raised my eyebrows at XiMen Feng. In the meantime, I had already targeted an isolated serpent king.
“No wonder he’s the lord! He even thinks differently from normal people.” I don’t know who said that, but all five people nodded their heads and then five pairs of admiring gazes turned on me again.
Overcome by a splitting headache, I was almost at my limit. All I could do was pretend that the gazes of admiration were invisible and wave to XiMen Feng, who was the only one not staring at me with glittering eyes. “Hey hot babe XiMen Feng, time to train.”
“Damn! Does the pretty boy here not understand human speech? I’m a guy, you brat! How many times do I need to tell you?” XiMen Feng roared unhappily as usual while raising his sword to advance upon the serpent king with me.
“May I ask, my lord, how might we assist you?” The warrior of the group asked me, surprised and confused.
“You guys can go off to practice too. If I need healing, I will come and find you,” I replied apathetically.
“Wouldn’t it better if I just follow you, my lord?” The priest added quickly.
“No need,” I said dismissively with a wave of my hand. Are you kidding? Being followed by that pair of admiring eyes, I will feel uneasy from head to toe, so don’t even mention doing any more training under that gaze.
“If the lord says so, then very well.” The five showed very disappointed expressions and then walked away very slowly while glancing back at me with “grieving” expressions. If a stranger walked by at that moment, they probably would have guessed that I had just rejected five lovers.
Finally, when the five-man team was out of sight, I heaved a sigh of relief, messaged my frozen facial muscles, and then changed back to my normal, lax expression.
XiMen Feng looked at me and shook his head with exasperation, “Gee, I really want to show this expression to those five idiots. If they see this, I refuse to believe that they would continue to admire you and say, ‘my lord this’ and ‘my lord that.’”
“Sure, go call them over.” I yawned lazily and added, “That is, if you’re not afraid of White Bird giving you the axe.”
“Sonny, I ain’t afraid of that female bird,” XiMen Feng snorted.
I raised my eyebrows. “White Bird and Yu Lian-dàsăo are very close!”
As I thought, as soon as Yu Lian-dàsăo’s name was mentioned, even XiMen Feng stopped arguing back and began to sulk quietly; he didn’t even dare to utter “sonny” one last time.
Now that we’re on this topic, I have to go off on a bit of a tangent. Why is XiMen Feng so afraid of Yu Lian-dàsăo?
Think back to when XiMen Feng joined Infinite City. His first job was given to him by Yu Lian-dàsăo. Remember what I mentioned before? I don’t know why, but the fans absolutely loved the little unexpected fight scene during the first concert, so XiMen Feng was ordered to go on stage and challenge me at every subsequent concert.
I remembered that when XiMen Feng first received Yu Lian-dàsăo’s order, he said, “Not a chance, sonny!”
Yu Lian-dàsăo smiled that faint, menacing smile of hers… As I stood off to the side, it made me think that XiMen Feng had just met his end. Yu Lian-dàsăo said, “Hmm? I thought that you came to Infinite City to challenge Prince? That’s why I arranged this job for you – I had thought that you would be delighted to accept! Or… perhaps you have been beaten into submission by our undefeatable Prince already, and are afraid to challenge him ever again?”
Hearing that, XiMen Feng exploded in a fit of anger, “That’s blasphemy! The word fear is not even in my vocabulary, sonny!”
Thus, XiMen Feng became the concert’s biggest clown. He got pummeled by me into a pulp every time, and there were even people in the audience who yelled, “Harder!” and “Not enough blood!”, etc., forcing me to use more and more force on him every time.
The second incident that made XiMen Feng realize that the deadly Yu Lian-dàsăo was not someone who could be trifled with occurred when the book shop had finished being constructed. Yu Lian-dàsăo thought that there weren’t enough books in the shop. Since Fairsky and Phoenix are girls, they couldn’t expose too much for the sake of attracting more male readers. So, someone who looked pretty good as a babe in the daytime was roped into making a swimsuit edition photo album.
And that’s not all. Yu Lian-dàsăo thought that since there were no muscle men in the Infinite Band, we wouldn’t be able to attract any readers who love muscle men. So, she roped in someone who looks muscular at night to snap a second photo album. It’s actually kind of disgusting, seeing all those bouncing chest muscles. I really don’t know why anyone would like that type of body… Ahem, I didn’t peek on purpose! I really, really didn’t!
Thinking of those incidents, I turned around and looked at hot babe XiMen Feng, barely suppressing my laughter.
“Pretty boy! What the hell are you laughing about?” XiMen Feng looked suspiciously at my weird expression.
I quickly straightened up my face. “N-nothing at all, let’s continue training!”
Finishing my sentence, I ignored XiMen Feng’s confused expression and headed off to attack another serpent king. I felt much better. Oh well, at least my situation is still a bit better than hot babe XiMen Feng’s.
Walking up behind the serpent, I felt the excitement build up as I watched its towering stature. I caressed Black Dao gently, “My friend, it’s been a long time since you’ve tasted fresh blood. Sorry for putting you through that, so now, enjoy the feast!”
With a “swish” I unsheathed Black Dao, and then suddenly thought up a mischievous idea. With one foot, I casually stepped on the serpent king’s tail, making it stick its long tongue quite far out as it winced from the pain. It turned around with its mouth wide open. When it saw me, it narrowed its slit-like eyes a little and then lunged towards me, intent on biting off my head.
I laughed coldly, and effortlessly escaped the blow by dodging to the left. Afterwards, I caught a glimpse of its tail sweeping towards me with full force. With a pivot of the toes, I leapt over the tail, and fiercely stabbed Black Dao towards the serpent’s head. Before I could cut its head open, the serpent king turned and lunged towards me again. In one motion, I lowered my head to dodge while simultaneously using Black Dao to cleave the serpent king in two equal halves from the throat down.
Finally, I turned back and also cut off the head, closing my eyes and letting the warm blood spray on my face. I opened my eyes, wiped off the blood from my face, and sighed. At long last, I get to fight to my heart’s content again.
“Damn! Are you retarded, kid? Why would you make yourself dripping with blood all over?” XiMen Feng stared in astonishment at the blood covering my entire face and body.
I wagged a finger and asked him impishly, “Do you recall what my nickname is?”
“Blood Elf…” XiMen Feng replied automatically, and then scratched his head. “Oh, so that’s why you are called the blood elf. So, the pretty boy has this kind of perverted hobby.”
“Who’s perverted? This is called blood lust, and it’s cool, got it?” I replied, puckering my mouth.
XiMen Feng gave me a universal hand signal – a fist with only the middle finger sticking up. “Cool? If anyone calls that cool, I will cut off my own head to make soup for you, damn it.”
“Ultra-cool….” the words echoed out from behind me.
I turned around to see that the five-man team was back. The female players’ eyes kept popping out as hearts, and the guys stood with clutched fists and eyes full of admiration and excitement. All that was left for them to do was to kneel down and yell, “All hail the king!”
I sighed in my heart. It looks like I won’t be able to train freely today. As I thought, I couldn’t help but talk down to XiMen Feng, saying, “Hey, go make that soup!”
“Liege Lord, how goes the training?” Just as we arrived at the foot of Infinite City, we saw Lolidragon and Kong Kong busy with their planting…of traps, that is. Lolidragon was so worn out that she only gave me a supercilious look as a greeting. Despite being quite weary himself, Kong Kong still waved and asked after me cheerfully.
“Not bad,” I replied stuffily and walked past, followed by the five-man team of admirers and XiMen Feng, who was still considering whether he should keep his promise of lopping his head off to make soup for me.
Kong Kong looked at the five people, and yelled, “It’s not every day that you get a chance to go train with our Liege Lord – did you guys make yourselves useful? And did any of you learn anything after seeing our lord in battle?”
“Of course! We examined very carefully the Liege Lord’s every move!” The warrior replied quickly.
“The lord is so powerful! He really deserves the title of undefeatable king!” the female mage’s fiery passionate eyes never strayed from me.
“The undefeatable king? What a fitting name!” Kong Kong’s eyes sparkled, as if that phrase were used to describe himself. He gloated with pleasure, “I don’t mean to brag about our lord, but the day the Blood Elf falls is the day that gold rains down from the sky.”
The five people nodded their heads in earnest as soon as the words left his mouth.
Lolidragon’s voice drifted over the PM channel, “Undefeatable king? If Kong Kong’s words were true, I would probably would have gotten my skull cracked open from all that gold a long time ago, and Yu Lian-dàsăo wouldn’t have any more financial problems.”
“Hey, at least we never really suffered an actual defeat. Don’t we always win in the end?”
Lolidragon smirked coldly, and asked nonchalantly, “Anyway, what’s wrong? I noticed that you looked a little pale when you came back. Were those five players too weak? Were they being a burden? Should I tell White Bird to pick a different group for you?”
Distressed, I replied with a sigh, “It has nothing to do with their strength. It’s just that they admire me way too much, and it makes me feel uneasy all over.”
“Hah, White Bird picked them to help you train precisely because she saw that they all admire you deeply and weren’t all that weak. Has that decision backfired?” Lolidragon asked, holding back a laugh.
“Oh please. Do you realize they were just one step shy of buying me some incense and fruit to worship at my altar?” I groused. Who would want to be given offerings as if they were the Jade Emperor?2
“I can see what you mean.” Lolidragon and I listened to the five of them having a heated discussion with Kong Kong about my ‘miracles’, wondering whether they were actually talking about me or about the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the end, Lolidragon said, “Well, if you don’t like this team, you should take it up with White Bird.”
“Yeah,” I said as I listened to the group beside me saying how during one particular instance, I had parted the Red Sea3. I thought to myself, I have to get White Bird to change this team for me.
“Liege Lord!” White Bird dashed over the moment I arrived at the castle. She didn’t wait for a reply and instead hastily but respectfully continued on, “Liege Lord, there are two adventurers’ teams that wish to join us. Please go meet the team leaders!”
“Oh, okay,” I said with a hint of disappointment. I was originally planning on taking a break at the Infinite Restaurant.
“Liege Lord, please go find Phoenix and get your new cape first.” White Bird bowed and rushed off to who knows where.
I didn’t know what my dream cape will be like, but I suppressed my excitement and rushed off to find Phoenix.
“Phoenix!” I charged into the office, yelling her name.
Phoenix, who had been working hard with her head buried in the accounting record, turned and looked up at me with surprise. Then, she asked exuberantly, “Does Prince need anything from me?”
With sparkling eyes, I asked in suspense, “The cape! Where is my cape?”
When Phoenix heard what I wanted, she let out a disappointed, “Oh,” and took out a big parcel from her antique bag and gave it to me. Even though Phoenix’s expression seemed a bit off, I wasn’t too bothered. I snatched the parcel and started to rip it apart.
“Whoa!” I exclaimed in surprise. This cape is nothing like the superhero cape I had in mind. Instead, this thick, velvety red cape lined with white fur is exactly like- like the kind that a king would wear to his coronation, the ones that trail a few meters behind the person!
“I chose the fabric!” Phoenix announced happily.
“Oh… But, isn’t this overdoing it?” I finally said only after taking a very deep breath.
“Don’t you like it though?” Phoenix asked.
“It’s not bad,” I answered with a shrug.
“Is that so?” Suddenly Phoenix’s spirit seemed to sink a whole new level, and she became dead silent.
At that moment, Yu Lian-dàsăo came in and asked me with a smile, “How is it?”
“It’s…” I hesitated, “Isn’t it kind of over the top?”
“It will bring out your aura of royalty!” Yu Lian-dàsăo finished and then added with a hint of exasperation, “It was made to suit White Bird’s tastes. I would have preferred to just use a simpler fabric, you know, to save money.”
“But it’s fine like this. After all, you will be meeting plenty more people in the future and there will be a whole mess of ceremonies and such, so it would be good to have a cape that looks more dignified,” Yu Lian-dàsăo said thoughtfully.
Ceremonies? When I was just about to ask, White Bird charged up to us with a panicked look. Without a word, she helped me put on the cape and then praised me respectfully, “The cape suits you, Liege Lord. Please go meet the two adventurer team leaders in the main hall now.”
“Oh.” I replied absent-mindedly to White Bird while carefully inspecting every detail of the cape that I was now wearing.
White Bird panicked even more, “Liege Lord, please hurry. They have been waiting for a long time.”
“Alright, then let’s go.” I shrugged and walked towards the main hall with White Bird following closely behind.
“Please don’t forget about your demeanor, Liege Lord.” White Bird looked at my lazy expression with worry.
“Yeah, I know.” I stretched lazily, closed my eyes and breathed deeply. When I opened my eyes again, I had a shadow of a smile on my face, but my eyes had an intimidating stare capable of freezing three feet of air: my famous blood elf look.
When I walked into the hall, I saw a band of roughly ten or so people drinking tea. I scanned the crowd with a calm smile and sat down on my throne.
Everyone’s eyes were on me as I sipped with composure from the cup of tea White Bird presented to me. Then I looked at everyone and started my official welcome speech. “I am the Infinite City’s Liege Lord, Prince. On behalf of Infinite City, I welcome you all—”
I didn’t even finish when someone interrupted, “Wait!”
This was the first time someone had ever dared to interrupt me in my many welcome speeches. I looked up with curiosity at the one who had interrupted me. He was a calm looking fellow. In his eyes I could definitely see that he did not believe in my strength.
“Yes?” I asked with that half smile of mine. Maybe this time the welcoming meeting won’t be as boring as the ones before.
The calm fellow bowed with his hands, and started speaking with a very imposing manner, “I’ve heard rumors that Prince, the lord of Infinite City, with whom I have the good fortune of meeting today, is a legendary man whose strength is unrivaled, with innumerable capable subordinates. From this meeting today, it is clear from your imposing demeanor that you are no ordinary person. But that alone is not enough proof for me and my brothers to join Infinite City. We want to witness for ourselves the proof of your strength.”
I couldn’t help roll my eyes conspicuously at him. Hey man, is there really a need for you to spout all that bombastic drivel? Do you think that this is some kind of ancient Chinese martial arts novel? Or is it just that you’re stuck in the wrong book? Are you a lost sheep from one of Jin Yong’s novels?4 I had thought that White Bird was the only one who speaks like this. But having met this fellow today, I realized that White Bird’s manner of speech is nothing compared to his.
“Liege Lord, answer him!” White Bird’s panicking voice drifted over the PM channel.
I smiled and gave a straightforward reply to the Jin Yong fellow, “What do you propose? Say it directly, no need to beat about the bush.”
“Good. As expected, the lord of Infinite City is direct and to the point.” The Jin Yong fellow gave me a thumbs up and a look of respect.
He gestured towards a man clad in all black, and then said with a face full of pride, “This is our team’s best fighter, Cold Fox.”
I looked at Cold Fox. Hearing that name alone, one could infer that he would be an icy guy, and I was not disappointed. He had jet black hair, black eyes, black clothes – basically black all over. He even wore a face that said ‘Annoy me, and I’ll kill you; don’t annoy me, and I’ll still want to kill you.’ No wonder he’s called Cold Fox. If my eyes were described as being able to freeze three feet of air, his would definitely freeze eight feet, and he was staring at me with all eight feet’s worth.
“If the Liege Lord or any of his subordinates can defeat Cold Fox, then we will all stay in Infinite City and pledge loyalty to you forever.” Though even as he was saying this, the Jin Yong fellow had a look that clearly showed his confidence of Cold Fox never losing.
Feeling the brunt of Cold Fox’s icy cold stare, I suddenly had the urge to give him a sound beating, so I stood up eagerly to take on this challenge.
“Don’t challenge him!” At this moment, Nan Gong Zui’s voice drifted over the PM channel. I looked up to see that Zui had just walked in, and I gave him a confused look. He continued over the PM, “Cold Fox, Second Life’s third strongest player, is at least level 92. He uses one of the three legendary weapons, Bloodlust. I’m afraid you might not be his match, Prince.”
Hearing that, I laughed heartily… and promptly sat down. Damn! Where did Kenshin wander off to?
Zui was putting it mildly when he said that I might not be his match. I am definitely not his match! I still have at least that much self-awareness. Even though we are not sure of his actual level, a difference of sixteen levels is just too much. Plus, going against Cold Fox’s legendary weapon and with his stance that could only belong to a battle maniac, is there any way that I could win? Well, not unless Cold Fox had a sudden attack of stomach flu… but we don’t get sick in the game, so I better stop hoping for miracle like that to happen.
“Since you have selected your strongest player, I suppose I will select mine as well!” I said to the Jin Yong fellow with a forced look of indifference. I said this knowing that I had already told Kenshin to come, and that he was in the castle and was probably already on his way.
A quick explanation: pets cannot send PMs, and only the pet owner can chat with the pet over long distances. I had already told everyone in Infinite City that Sunshine and Kenshin are my personal guards and that they will never listen to or obey anyone else. Thus, nobody had any suspicions about this so far. Even if people did try to send PMs to Kenshin, they would probably just think that he didn’t want to answer.
“Strongest player? I thought that the Liege Lord was Infinite City’s strongest player,” the Jin Yong fellow asked in confusion.
I smiled again, “You are praising me too much. There is always a higher mountain. Besides, I’ve been buried in work and unfortunately have been negligent on my training. Why would the strongest player be me?”
The Jin Yong fellow didn’t seem to mind much, probably because he was completely confident in the third-ranked Cold Fox. He just said, “In that case, may the strongest player of Infinite City please step forth!”
I caught sight of that brilliant head of red hair from the corners of my eyes and said with relief, “Kenshin, you will be the one dueling Cold Fox.”
Everyone turned their eyes towards the door, looking at Kenshin doubtfully. Kenshin never says anything unnecessary, so he just gripped his sword with his left hand and walked towards Cold Fox. Cold Fox seemed to sense that Kenshin was going to be a strong opponent and his eyes shone with excitement.
This is…the battle of the cold-blooded! I sighed, why are all strong players cold-blooded? Could it be that training too much makes your blood start turning into ice?
I leisurely awaited for the start of this once-in-a-century battle. Why was I so relaxed? Well, I had 200% confidence in Kenshin. There’s no need to even mention that he is the prize of a hidden quest. Just consider the fact that he is the boss of the Demon Cave. It’s no simple quest for someone to defeat a boss alone. Have you ever heard of anyone succeeding?
Also, Cold Fox is only level 92… well, the level 76 me is in no position to say “only” level 92. But still, against the level 100 Kenshin, level 92 is on the weak side. Also, Kenshin’s skills are beyond those of a regular level 100 player anyway. I doubt that even a level 120 player would be able to beat him alone, and the highest level on the rankings right now is only 95. So, if Kenshin were a player, then he would be Second Life’s strongest player.
So, what do I have to worry about? If it weren’t for my image as a lord, I would be having popcorn and a soda right now.
Down below, everyone had already formed a clearing in the middle for the two of them to fight. Neither of them had said a single word since the start, but I could clearly see Cold Fox’s cold expression starting to waver. Just as I thought that Cold Fox should be ready to make his move, he did.
Cold Fox darted quickly towards Kenshin with a speed that would leave me trailing in the dust. In a heartbeat, Cold Fox was right in front of Kenshin and Bloodlust was being thrust forward. Kenshin barely moved. He just flicked half of his blade out of its sheath and blocked the attack. Cold Fox’s reflexes were incredibly fast, so when the two blades touched his leg also went to sweep towards Kenshin’s lower body. However, Kenshin was no easy target. He sidled a bit, and Cold Fox’s leg collided with Kenshin’s knee… In a battle of shin versus knee, I think everyone knows the result! Even if you don’t, I wouldn’t recommend for you to try it for yourself. I won’t take responsibility for the results.
Seeing Cold Fox’s icy face had actually twitched a little, I could tell that it must have hurt tremendously! Ignoring the pain, Cold Fox quickly brandished his sword for another attack. However, Kenshin already had his blade out, and I could only hear the constant clanging of metal and see flashes of silver between the two.
“Howling Wolf!” Cold Fox cut many crescent-shaped slashes right at Kenshin. He then followed closely behind the slashes, going for Kenshin in person. There was no way to avoid this attack, and I stood up from my throne in surprise. I really wanted to dive over there to save Kenshin.
Kenshin is a pet, and pets can be resurrected, but if Kenshin died and got resurrected, would he still maintain his self-awareness? Even Lolidragon wasn’t quite sure about this. I don’t want to take any chances and risk Kenshin losing his self-awareness.
“Void Piercer!” Kenshin said coldly. Before I could even see what was happening, he was already standing behind Cold Fox and his Howling Wolf slashes. After freezing for a second, Cold Fox unwillingly collapsed to the ground, staining the spotless floor with a large pool of blood. However, he didn’t turn into a column of white light and fly off. Looks like Kenshin had been careful not to kill him.
Everyone, including myself, froze on the spot, not sure of what had happened. How exactly did Kenshin manage to avoid Howling Wolf? And since when did Cold Fox suffer such heavy wounds? That was amazing…. I had a whole lot of questions, but I wasn’t stupid enough to inquire Kenshin about his secret attack in front of all these people. Why would I let anyone else know about my own pet’s secret abilities and let them figure out its weakness?!
I sat down slowly and calmly said, “The battle is over, you guys may go and help Cold Fox heal.”
That calm fellow’s expression changed drastically and he shrieked at Cold Fox with loud insults. “Bastard! You said that you wouldn’t lose to anyone except for the top-ranked Undying Man! Now that you’ve lost to some unknown little brat, what use do I have for you?!”
The calm fellow cast away his calm façade and with a violent expression, drew out his sword to attack Cold Fox, who was lying defenselessly on the ground. I was so shocked that I couldn’t utter a single word in time, just watching helplessly as Cold Fox was about to get slaughtered right in front of my eyes.
“Soaring Dragon!” A life flashed away with a soft murmur from Kenshin. The calm fellow didn’t even get a chance to utter a single wail before he turned into a pillar of white light in the sky.
I was somewhat shocked. This was the first time that Kenshin had interceded on his own without my orders.
“Dàgē!” The calm fellow’s teammates gasped and then looked fiercely at Kenshin. After Kenshin surveyed them back, they backed away fearfully and looked away.
One of them turned around and started shrieking at me, “Lord of Infinite City! What’s the meaning of this? Our two teams came all this way to join Infinite City, and yet you’ve killed our Dàgē!”
I sneered coldly, “If you had really intended to join Infinite City, then you wouldn’t have found the third-ranked player, Cold Fox, to challenge me. It’s clear that you just want to stir up trouble!”
After I said that, the people in front of me all turned pale, but they held their ground, “We never did! We just wanted to see if Infinite City is worthy for us to join.”
“That doesn’t even make half a bit of sense. Get out of my sight. I will let today’s incident slide, but if you ever come here again looking for trouble, Infinite City will show no mercy towards any of you.” I replied coldly and waved to White Bird impatiently. “White Bird! Show our guests out!”
“Yes, my lord.” After responding to me respectfully, she turned on the band of people with a fierce look, “How dare you come to Infinite City to play your dirty tricks. Guards!”
“Here!” A bunch of guys wearing identical armors suddenly swarmed in from the side and responded in unison.
I almost spat out my tea. Since when did we have things like guards? Even I, the Liege Lord, didn’t know about it. I will tell them to yell “Wei Wu~”5 a bit later.
“The Liege Lord has ordered that these people be escorted out!” White Bird yelled, staring coldly at the unwelcome guests.
“Yes!” the guards shouted again in unison, and started to carry out the order, shooing the guests out of the main hall with waves of their daos. The so-called guests realized that the situation was looking grim for them, and so they hurriedly backed out of the hall, but not before giving me evil looks before they left.
“I am very sorry, Liege Lord,” White Bird suddenly turned around, and apologized with a face full of remorse. “I should have investigated first if they had really wanted to join Infinite City or if they were just looking for trouble. I apologize for making the Liege Lord deal with this himself.”
“It’s no big deal,” I answered White Bird, unconcerned. My eyes were on the scene below. Kenshin and Cold Fox were staring at each other coldly. Any onlookers would probably think that they wanted to kill each other. But from my experience with Kenshin’s facial expressions, the conversation actually went something like this:
“Okay?” Kenshin’s first stare.
“Okay.” Cold Fox’s answering look.
“Help?” Kenshin’s second look with eyebrows slightly raised.
“No.” Cold Fox lowered his eyes and started to drink a red potion.
Cold Fox slowly stood up. Even though the red potion couldn’t heal his wound completely, it should be enough for him to be able to move around again. He glanced at me, and then at Kenshin. That look was probably asking, “Can I leave?”
Kenshin looked up at me, asking for my orders. I creased my eyebrows in disapproval, and Kenshin frowned lightly. He looked back at Cold Fox before answering “no” with his eyes.
Cold Fox did not seem surprised. He looked straight at me with a look that said, “Kill or torture, do whatever you wish.” That look fired up my temper, so I spoke in an unfriendly tone, “You sauntered in here looking for trouble, so tell me, what should I do with you?”
“Up to you.” Cold Fox’s indifferent tone made it sound like we were discussing someone else’s fate.
Looking at that apathetic expression, I thought, He probably wouldn’t even blink if I give him a lashing or even kill him. So what’s the point of punishing him? I would rather go beat up Gui. At least he would howl out for me to hear.
“Oh well, forget it, since you were dumped here by the leader of your team,” I said lazily.
Cold Fox smirked, “I’m not a part of any team.”
Hearing that, my curiosity was piqued, “Then why did you come today?”
“To challenge the strongest!” Cold Fox’s eyes sparkled with the light of a warmonger.
Hmm? Interesting. I suddenly came up with a plan to make Cold Fox stay. Why should I allow him to stay? Well, if there were another strong player that I could send out to battle, then I wouldn’t need to rely so much on Kenshin alone.
“Join Infinite City!” I skipped the formalities and got to the main point.
“No!” Cold Fox also gave a clear-cut response.
I faintly revealed a sly smile. ”Join me. After you join, I promise that you can challenge Kenshin whenever you want.”
Hearing that, Cold Fox’s eyes wavered. Though the look that Kenshin is giving me right now is a bit too harsh.
I put my trump card into play. “Or are you afraid to challenge Kenshin again? Well, I can understand. Kenshin is so strong that he doesn’t even seem human. It’s no surprise that you are afraid.”
“Nonsense!” Cold Fox narrowed his eyes dangerously.
I laughed impishly. This ruse never fails, no matter whether it’s Yu Lian-dàsăo using it against XiMen Feng or myself to lure in Cold Fox.
Cold Fox’s expression suddenly turned ugly, “I do not follow orders.”
“Then you can take the same role as Kenshin and be my personal guard. You won’t have to listen to anyone else except me. And, except for calling you out to challenge strong opponents, I basically won’t give you any orders,” I smiled softly.
“Um…” Cold Fox hesitated, but when he turned and looked at Kenshin, the look he wore was as if he had seen his beloved. He examined Kenshin from head to toe, and then again from toe to head. After that, his expression of agreement seemed to overpower the one of disagreement.
I didn’t feel like waiting for an answer, so I continued, “Okay, that settles it. When I have no orders for you, you can follow Kenshin around, or he can follow you. You both can go anywhere, but just don’t leave the Central Continent.”
Before leaving the hall, I couldn’t help but steal a glance at Kenshin. That look…I was 100% sure that it meant he wanted to send me to the Demon Cave as a ghost!
1 Goddess of the Sea: The Māzǔ (媽祖) is the Goddess of Sea who watches over the seafarers and fishermen. As Taiwan is an island country, the ancestors of the Taiwanese will have to rely on the sea for their food and income, hence why 媽祖 is especially venerated there. Please refer to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mazu_%28goddess%29 for more information.
2 Jade Emperor: In Taoist folk culture, the Jade Emperor is one of the most important and supreme gods, ruling over Heaven and all the realms of existence below, including Man and Hell. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jade_Emperor for more information.
3 Parted the Red Sea: This is a biblical reference. Moses had parted the Red Sea as he led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. It’s not clear whether this is supposed to be entirely separate from the earlier reference to Jesus Christ (who performed many miracles, but did not part the Red Sea) or is a misconception of Christian traditions by Yu Wo.
4 Jin Yong: As mentioned in one of the previous chapters, Jin Yong is a famous modern Chinese wuxia novelist. The character “Lolidragon” was originally a character in his novel The Return of the Condor Heroes. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jin_Yong for more information.
5 Wei Wu: The phrase 威武 (wēi wǔ) literally means “formidable / military prestige”. It originated from a saying from Chinese philosopher Mencius, “Military prestige cannot be swayed” (威武不能屈) and has been adopted as a standard opening call in Chinese courts of law.