½ Prince Volume 7: Life, Fading Away
Original novel in Chinese by: 御我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 2: The Disappearance of Wicked – translated by Lucathia
“This is AnRui,” I introduced to everyone in Infinite City. After seeing their dumbstruck expressions and increasing breathing difficulties, I added another fatal blow. “Is everyone ready? If so, take a seat. It’s time to depart.”
Everyone was speechless. After a lot of struggling, Nan Gong Zui finally managed to squeeze out a single question, one that he obviously already knew the answer to. “What are we sitting on?”
Naturally, I gestured toward AnRui. “You know, AnRui.”
“Where are we going to sit? On the shell?” Neurotic widened his eyes.
Silently, I walked up to AnRui’s side and patted its shell. At that, AnRui opened its shell and rolled me up with its tongue (don’t ask me if clams really have tongues. I don’t know either. I’ve never encountered tongues when I ate clams in the past. AnRui somehow just had one). I then lay on top of the soft clam meat, as comfortable as if I were lying on top of a water bed from Simmons. It was hard to suppress my continual feeling of drowsiness.
Soon, I felt another person being rolled in. When he was thrown on top of the clam meat, he caused a ripple of meat waves to spread out. Silently, he lay next to me.
“So dark. Is there a light around?” The person asked calmly, finally letting me know that the one who got rolled in was Nan Gong Zui.
I also calmly answered him, “Would there be light inside a clam’s body?”
Before Nan Gong Zui could even open his mouth to answer, a soft light suddenly lit up. Wordlessly, Nan Gong Zui and I looked up at the ceiling… I mean, at the center of the shell above us, where a pearl was now giving off light.
“How’s this?” AnRui asked attentively.
“Great, thank you very much,” Nan Gong Zui answered extremely politely.
Following that, the rest of the crowd was thrown in one after another. It wasn’t long before a bunch of people lay inside AnRui’s body in a disorderly manner.
I adjusted my reclining position before opening my mouth to speak. “I’ll take attendance. Wolf-dàgē? Yu Lian-dàsăo?”
“Here.” Wolf-dàgē and Yu Lian-dàsăo’s voices drifted over from the same corner. I turned my head to look, only to discover that Yu Lian-dàsăo was in Wolf-dàgē’s embrace, a shy expression on her face… ah, I saw nothing. I turned my head back.
“Doll?” Right after I called out for her, two slaps resounded, accompanied by the sound of Celestial’s wailing sobs.
“Why are you grouping us together…” the two of them asked in unison, as if they were on the same wavelength.
“Lolidragon?” I yelled but didn’t get a response. “Lolidragon?”
I heard a snore, and then Feng Wu Qing coldly said, “She fell asleep.”
She fell asleep too quickly! Sweat… I continued with my roll call. “Fairsky, even though lying down presents a very convenient opportunity, don’t take this chance to devour Sunshine.”
“Eh, I… won’t do that… probably…” Why does Fairsky’s voice sound a little guilty?
“Kenshin?” I called out for Kenshin, seeing no need to call out for Cold Fox, since Cold Fox was always at Kenshin’s side.
“Here,” Kenshin called out simply.
“Ah, that pearl is so beautiful…”
“Before we get off the clam, can I take that pearl with me?”
Good, the wandering couple and Winter Triumph are all here. That only leaves…
“Uuuuu, Lolidragon, let me sleep by your side!”
Looks like everyone’s here… Inside my heart, I softly murmured, thanks everyone, before I yelled loudly, “Then let’s set out! AnRui, we’re counting on you.”
“Hey, hey, hey, did you forget about me?” A clear voice snarled out resentfully.
“Ming Huang…” I called out grudgingly. I didn’t think he’d come along too.
“Meatbun’s owner, I’m setting out now,” AnRui said courteously. After that, our journey to the Northern Continent began…huh? You’re wondering how a clam can walk on land?
By sliding! Don’t be suspicious, see, AnRui has already begun sliding. As a whole, the trip felt fairly smooth, except for when AnRui would occasionally turn left or dash right and we would tumble around inside. And when AnRui would suddenly brake, we would all splatter in front, although, the most painful experiences had to be when AnRui would jump up and we’d fly up high in the air, hit the ceiling, and then land on the clam meat below with a splat.
“Urgh, I’m clam sick,” Feng Wu Qing shouted in pain.
Weakly, I ordered, “Bear with it. It should be better when we reach the sea.”
I didn’t know how long it took, but AnRui suddenly jumped with a lot of power. We splattered against the ceiling for several seconds, after which AnRui finally landed with great strength, and we also struck against clam meat with great strength, which was followed by several groans.
I lay against the clam meat and howled in pain for several moments before I discovered that AnRui didn’t seem to be very stable and was wobbling left and right, like a ship floating in the sea. Happily, I shouted, “We’re at sea now!”
After I spoke everyone was so happy that they almost cried.
Compared to our previous hell of rolling about, it felt so comfortable at the moment that it was almost like we’d returned to sleeping in our mothers’ wombs. Everyone lay quietly on top of the clam meat, enjoying the peacefulness of the moment. After all, when we reached the Northern Continent, we would be fighting to the death. Who knew how many of us would survive against HD?
“Say, why don’t we decide on a time and location to meet in the real world?” I suddenly asked. If Prince were to disappear, then I would no longer have a need to hide my gender. I should be able to openly appear in front of everyone as a female. Hehe, I wonder what kind of expression everyone will have when they discover my gender?
“That is a good idea. Then we won’t lose contact,” Yu Lian-dàsăo said with a chuckle.
“Then let’s meet at Yu Lian-dàsăo and Wolf-dàgē’s wedding ceremony,” I said while smiling slyly.
“What are you saying, Prince?” Yu Lian-dàsăo reprimanded faintly.
I couldn’t stop myself from laughing. Earning Yu Lian-dàsăo’s “faint reprimand” was no easy feat.
“Where should we decide on?” Nan Gong Zui asked a little excitedly.
I gave him an odd look before I shrugged and said, “Wherever’s fine. It doesn’t matter even if we’re in different countries. Going places is so convenient now. If we use the transmission machine, we’d get there in no time.” (Note: The transmission machine’s function is similar to today’s fax machine, but what’s transmitted isn’t paper, but rather three-dimensional people or items. The transmission fee is not cheap.)
I chuckled twice before I said, “As for the fee for the transmission machine, of course we should leave it to Lolidragon, the daughter of the mighty president, to bear the burden.”
Lolidragon “hmphed” twice before she private messaged me, “Fine, I’ll pay. I’m already itching to see how everyone will react once they know your true identity. Hehehe, they might even beat you until you swell up like a pig, especially Nan Gong Zui, Kong Kong, and all those people who look up to you. You know the consequences of shattering their delusions will be grave.”
Uh, Nan Gong Zui wouldn’t hit a woman, would he? Hopefully not…
“I wonder what Prince looks like? Probably not very similar to how he looks right now,” Wolf-dàgē’s rough voice resounded.
“There’s probably a huge discrepancy. Otherwise, how can it be that no one was able to track down the spokesperson for Second Life?” Winter Triumph murmured thoughtfully, scaring me so much that my heart suddenly jumped.
“Hehehe, even though appearances in Second Life are based on people’s true appearances, there’s still a lot you can alter, such as your body weight. Maybe the real Prince is as fat as a pig.” The guiltless tone Lolidragon faked made me so angry that my teeth hurt.
“Who’s as fat as a pig?!” I gritted out between my teeth.
“Huh? Am I wrong?” Lolidragon exaggerated her expression and even used an “innocent” (innocent my ass) tone to ask in return, “Otherwise, how do you look?”
“Your Highness, no matter what you look like, Gui will not care,” Gui hurriedly said.
I didn’t even have time to private message Lolidragon to scold her when something unexpected happened. AnRui, who had been smoothly sailing before, suddenly shook back and forth vigorously. I quickly yelled, “AnRui, has something happened?”
“There’s an obstruction,” AnRui replied tensely.
Feng Wu Qing’s anguished wailings began again. “Ah, first it’s land-sickness. Now it’s sea-sickness.”
Lolidragon angrily rebuked, “What a useless guy.”
“AnRui, is there any way to pass?” I struggled to stand up.
“Yes, but it might be a little uncomfortable. Please take care, everyone. I will need to use my colliding technique to overcome the obstruction.”
AnRui courteously apologized and then suddenly stood upright from its previous horizontal position. I didn’t have any time to shout before I rolled straight to the bottom. I didn’t know which unlucky guy got squashed firmly by me, but then I became the next unlucky guy when someone dropped from above and firmly squashed me. That person squashed me so much that my blood surged forward and I almost vomited a mouthful of blood.
“Prince, may I ask what kind of technique this colliding technique is?” From below me, Nan Gong Zui asked with a weak gasp.
“Rolling…” My face paled. It can’t be?
“We’re so dead!” Feng Wu Qing said hopelessly.
A few fleeting clouds floated above in the azure sky, white waves rolled in from the dark blue sea, and on top of the white, sandy shore lay… a clam huge enough to scare someone to death!
Without a sound, the two large pieces of the clam’s shell opened and a hand (which was shaking slightly) reached out from inside. Then, a splattered human who resembled Sadako climbing out of a television set1, with messy hair splayed in front, crawled out on all four limbs, followed by a group of people wiggling out of the clam’s shell, silently dropping dead on the seashore.
“If anyone ever tells me to ride a clam again, I will definitely kill eighteen generations of their family2.” Feng Wu Qing, the first one to climb out, gritted his teeth and cursed dispiritedly, completely forgetting that the first person who told him to ride a clam coincidentally shared the same family members as him.
“Thank you, AnRui.” Because my feet were shaking, I could only hang halfway on top of the clam’s shell to give my thanks. Even though the journey hadn’t been very pleasant, at least we had safely arrived at the Northern Continent.
“You’re welcome, Meatbun’s owner.” AnRui nodded its head and then spat Meatbun out.
Meatbun cheered with “Oh oh!”, rolled several times in midair, and then landed on top of my head. Unable to contain its excitement, it told AnRui, “AnRuiRui~, roll-roll is so, so fun. We should play play it again next time.”
AnRui chuckled. “Okay, next time, I will play with Meatbun again.” After saying so, AnRui turned to me and even made a bow. “Everything now depends on you, Meatbun’s owner.”
I didn’t really understand, but I nodded and watched AnRui retreat back to the water, disappearing from sight after a splash.
Turning my head, I faced the crowd. “Alright. Where to now?”
“Flower City.” Gui took out a map and said, “Our current position is approximately south of Flower City. As long as we continue heading north, we should be able to reach Flower City within two days. Of course, this is under the assumption that no one blocks us.”
“Ah, then we probably won’t be able to reach the city in two days.” Feng Wu Qing stared at some place past my back, his eyes wide.
I turned my head to look and almost cried out when I saw what was practically a mountain and sea of NPCs. We were already completely surrounded by all kinds of NPCs. The only way out was the ocean behind us… No, I already heard the strange sound of the churning waves behind me. It looked like we were completely surrounded.
By this time, everyone had already pulled themselves up and gathered together, their weapons ready in their hands. I pulled out my Black Dao. After walking to the very front, I turned on the team channel for our Execution Squad. “Line up right now. We’re going to blast our way out. Undying Man, Kenshin, Cold Fox, Neurotic, Nan Gong Zui, Winter Triumph, all of you go to the front to open a path for us. Yu Lian-dàsăo and Ming Huang, please also head to the front to help clear a path out using your magic. Everyone else, stay in the middle. Wu Qing, Wicked, come with me to the back.”
“Okay,” everyone responded simultaneously.
Everyone slowly lined up in the formation I had just described, and the NPCs looked like they wanted to start moving. I immediately yelled loudly over the team channel, “Break through the north!”
At once, Yu Lian-dàsăo began reciting an incantation and Ming Huang was so excited that he’d already thrown out numerous strikes of lightning. He even began laughing loudly, “Haha, so many monsters. It’s been too long since I’ve had such a good time electrocuting things.”
As soon as the mages opened a path to the north, the warriors in the front began fighting their way out of the siege, and I concentrated on battling the NPCs that had caught up to us at the back of the group. After a flurry of movement, I slowly discovered the fact that, thankfully, even though these NPCs were numerous, they were not that strong.
While we did our utmost to attack and kill the NPCs, Yu Lian-dàsăo and Ming Huang shouted at the same time, “Heaven’s Nine Wrath” and “Meteor Shower.”
The sight of meteorites and lightning striking together once again appeared in front of my eyes. I thought I remembered the first time I’d seen such an impressive sight, which happened to be during the final battle of the Adventurers’ Tournament. After the chaotic strikes of the meteorites and the lightning, a radius of more than ten meters in front of us was immediately wiped clean.
“Run quickly!” I shouted loudly.
As soon as I spoke, everyone began running desperately. As we ran, we even trampled on NPCs that were once again rising up. Ming Huang nearly lost his shoes too.
“Hurry and run, hurry! Warriors with quick agility, pick up the mages and run.” In the back, Wicked and I urged everyone on. I looked back and saw that numerous NPCs were already chasing us. My heart shivered. Although they weren’t strong, with enough of them, even ants could devour an elephant.
“This is no good, Prince.” Lolidragon looked like she was barging on with her teeth clenched as she spoke. “Prince, we should separate. You take the strongest ones – Kenshin, Sunshine, and Celestial – and fight straight to Flower City. Let us help you draw away the NPCs.”
“No,” I refused straight away. What kind of joke is this? You want me to stay far away while I watch others get destroyed by NPCs without doing anything? I would rather you tell me to watch the entirety of Second Life get destroyed than that.
Anxious, Lolidragon shouted, “Why are you so stubborn?”
I was just about to open my mouth to retort when I discovered a shadow looming above my head. I raised my head in confusion, but by then a phoenix had already grabbed me and lifted me off the ground.
“Prince!” Shocked, Wicked pounced and grabbed my legs tightly.
I quickly raised my Black Dao, wanting to cut the phoenix’s claws that were clutching my shoulders, but the phoenix seemed to know what I wanted to do next and even used its wings to swat my Black Dao away. When my Black Dao hit the ground, the phoenix shot straight up into the air. In a blink, I was already high up in the sky, getting farther and farther away from my companions.
“Prince!” I seemed to still be able to hear Lolidragon shouting and see everyone else’s shocked expressions.
What should I do now? I was completely at my wit’s end. Even if I could kill this phoenix, I was doomed to become mincemeat once I fell.
“Flying carpet, follow quickly.” A voice roused me with a start. I turned my head and saw that Sunshine was already making his way over on his flying carpet.
“Sunshine!” I yelled emotionally, at the same time struggling with all my might. Now I was no longer afraid of falling because Sunshine would never let me become mincemeat.
“Prince, hold on. I’m coming to save you right away.” Right after Sunshine shouted this, a shadow appeared in front of him, forcing him to suddenly brake. That shadow belonged to…Celestial! While Sunshine was being obstructed, the phoenix took me farther and farther away and kept going until I could no longer see them.
“Why?” My heart ached all of a sudden. Is Celestial truly…a spy? He actually prevented Sunshine from rescuing me…
“Uuuu, I’m now completely alone and even stuck in midair. What should I do?” I blinked my eyes, trying to force my tears back, but then again, since I was all alone, I might truly become mincemeat very soon. Even if I cried, no one would see me.
“Xiao Lan, help me up,” Wicked shouted with difficulty.
I looked down at my feet. Wicked… Zhuo-gēgē was slowly sliding down my legs. Hurriedly, I grabbed him and pulled him up to my side. Now, the two of us no longer dared to struggle. In fact, we grabbed on to the phoenix’s legs with all our might. Who knew how high up in the air we currently were? I only knew that we were surrounded by white clouds. If we were to fall, most likely no one would even be able to find our ashes.
“Who knew that we would make such a slip-up right after coming to shore?” Zhuo-gēgē said with a weak smile.
“Yeah,” I replied somewhat dejectedly. It looked like I was still too arrogant, thinking that I could plow straight through to the Dictator of Life, and then, like a hero, fight to the death and die together with the final boss… now I could only die together with a bird. Reality is truly cruel!
Indignantly, I accused, “Celestial really crossed the line! He actually blocked Sunshine, stopping him from rescuing me.”
However, Zhuo-gēgē thoughtfully questioned, “Celestial…maybe he is keeping something from us. He might not be as dumb as he appears.”
“He betrayed us!” I clenched my fists and bellowed.
“That might not be true.” Zhuo-gēgē fished out a compass and showed it to me. “Look. We’re heading north.”
North? Toward the location of Flower City? This bird isn’t going to take us to see the Dictator of Life, is it? Thinking this, I immediately opened my mouth to ask, “Hey, Bird, are you taking us to see the Dictator of Life?” Fire Phoenix was capable of speech, so there was no reason for the phoenix dispatched by the god of Second Life to be incapable of speech, right?
“I’m not Bird.” As I thought, the phoenix started speaking, using a stiff tone to spit out the words.
After going “eh,” I asked again, “Then Phoenix, are you taking us to see the Dictator of Life?”
“Hmph, who said I’m a phoenix?” The phoenix actually replied in a super affronted tone.
After hearing such a tone from the phoenix, I couldn’t help but coldly mock him, “Not a phoenix? Then are you a turkey3?” Ah, shit, I almost forgot that my life is still in the hands of this phoenix. He’s not going to throw me down in a fit of rage, is he?
“What’s a turkey?” the phoenix asked instead in a suspicious tone.
“Well…it’s a very majestic creature,” I answered in a calm voice. I mean, it is praiseworthy for turkeys to give themselves up so that people can eat them.
“I see. Do I truly resemble that kind of majestic creature?” The phoenix hummed joyfully and proudly.
“Yes, very much,” I replied winningly, with a super flattering tone. Even Zhuo-gēgē was forced to smother his laughter.
“But I am also not a turkey.” Maybe it was because I had praised him for resembling a majestic creature, but the phoenix’s tone was clearly a lot more amiable now, although his haughty attitude hadn’t changed. Very conceitedly, he announced, “I am Scorching Flame, one of the Four Heavenly Kings who serve the Dictator of Life.”
What? This turkey is Scorching Flame, one of the Four Heavenly Kings? That’s really… he really didn’t seem like one of the Four Heavenly Kings at all. I furrowed my brows. No matter how I looked at him, he looked like a common turkey – ah, no, a phoenix.
Scorching Flame, who had been flying at a quick pace, suddenly braked and asked suspiciously, “Eh? Ocean’s Heart, what did you come here for?”
After hearing the words “Ocean’s Heart,” I also curiously looked toward the figure that was blocking our way. Ocean’s Heart was now the only one of the Four Heavenly Kings I hadn’t seen yet.
After a glance, I couldn’t stop myself from exclaiming, “Is the Dictator of Life too lazy, or is the author too lazy?” Why? Why did Ocean’s Heart…look almost exactly like Flowing Wind, with their only difference being that Flowing Wind gave people the feeling of a coming whirlwind, while Ocean’s Heart gave the feeling of flowing water?
“Hehe, Scorching Flame, you should hand the two of them over to me.” Ocean’s Heart gently said, “I will bring them to the Dictator of Life.”
“Why? The Dictator clearly told me to bring them over.” Scorching Flame looked not at all pleased about this.
“The Dictator has changed his mind; he was afraid that they would anger you and that you would forget your mission and instead kill them directly.” Ocean’s Heart wasn’t angry and merely recounted this indifferently.
“Hmph, I would never do that.” Extremely resentful, Scorching Flame said, “I will definitely complete the mission that the Dictator assigned to me.”
“Forget about that. Hand them over to me,” said Ocean’s Heart in a very gentle voice, though it had become slightly firmer.
“No, I will personally hand them over to the Dictator. I will complete my mission.” Stubbornly, Scorching Flame gripped the two of us tightly, and as spectators, Zhuo-gēgē and I continued to watch the two NPCs argue, since no matter who won, in the end we would be taken to see the Dictator of Life.
Hearing this, Ocean’s Heart’s face fell too, and he lightly said, “Scorching Flame, hand them over to me.”
“I won’t.” Furious, Scorching Flame said, “The Dictator clearly wanted me to bring them over, not you.”
Wow, is this what they call civil warfare? Hm, based on my knowledge from my many years of novel reading, right now we should provoke them to argue more. Even better, we should get them to start fighting, and then Zhuo-gēgē and I would be able to take advantage of the situation and escape.
“Aiya, Wicked, who do you think we should leave with?” I asked Wicked with a completely innocent expression, but my eyes were trained on Scorching Flame and Ocean’s Heart.
After I blinked furiously, furiously being more than ten times per second, Zhuo-gēgē seemed to come to some sort of understanding. Tentatively, he tried asking, “Shouldn’t we leave with the stronger one?”
“Hmph!” Scorching Flame made an emphasized “hmph” sound. Although Ocean’s Heart still hadn’t reacted, at least we’d already managed to provoke Scorching Flame’s anger.
Once again, I “innocently” asked Scorching Flame, “Scorching Flame, between you and Ocean’s Heart, who is stronger?”
“Of course I am stronger!” The flames around Scorching Flame’s body suddenly began burning strongly, and his shape also began changing greatly…from the shape of a common turkey to something that looked no different from Ocean’s Heart and Flowing Wind. The only difference was his red color.
Damn the author for being so lazy… As Zhuo-gēgē and I fell, we couldn’t help but complain about this to ourselves… That’s right, once the turkey changed into a semitransparent human, the bird feet that had been grabbing us disappeared right away, which meant we’d begun falling. Why was it that my plan to provoke civil warfare was kind of… backfiring?
“Oh no.” Scorching Flame hurriedly rushed toward us but was blocked by Ocean’s Heart, forcing him to watch us play at free-falling right before his eyes.
Uuuu. Fine, I’d accept that I didn’t so much as see the boss’s face, even though I was the hero setting out to destroy the boss. Fine, I’d accept that I got captured by the Four Heavenly Kings. But don’t tell me that my death would actually come about because a momentary lapse in my enemy’s rational thinking caused me to fall to my death? I wondered, would a lot of people laugh until they rolled on the ground after hearing about this?
“I’m sorry for dragging you into this, Zhuo-gēgē.” I looked at Zhuo-gēgē with a somewhat apologetic expression. It was all thanks to my bird-brained scheme that we’d need to report back to the Central Continent.
“It’s fine,” Zhuo-gēgē merely smiled kindly.
“I…” After only managing to say “I,” I discovered that we were no longer dropping, and that a strange feeling was coming from below, causing me to feel like I was floating on water. When I tilted my head to look down, I saw a jelly-like block of ice holding us up. Water? Could it be Ocean’s Heart?
“Let’s hurry. Also, the Dictator of Life is not in Flower City. You should head east of Flower City, to Mount HuaLian.” Ocean’s Heart’s voice sounded next to my ear. Surprised, I looked towards Zhuo-gēgē, who also looked like he had heard this, but he remained silent.
After finally reaching land, I spotted an unwelcome visitor in the distance. Flowing Wind was currently heading our way rapidly… Zhuo-gēgē and I alone were probably no match for him. We could only resort to the one stratagem I knew from the Thirty-Six Stratagems4 – run for your life!
Ocean’s Heart, who had blocked Scorching Flame, forged ahead and also blocked Flowing Wind at the same time. Even though I didn’t know why he was helping us so much, there was no way we would miss our chance to escape. Quickly, I pulled Zhuo-gēgē and began running wildly through the forest, doing my utmost to run toward the densest parts of the thicket to prevent the Four Heavenly Kings from catching us.
“Why is Ocean’s Heart helping us?” asked Zhuo-gēgē suspiciously as we ran.
“I don’t know either,” I replied, full of questions myself. Everything was getting more and more confusing.
“Where should we go now?” Zhuo-gēgē…forget it, I’ll call him Wicked… Wicked asked me, “Do you want to go to Flower City, or Mount HuaLian?”
I thought and thought. Ocean’s Heart did save the two of us, so listening to him shouldn’t be wrong, right? After thinking this through, I replied resolutely, “Let’s go to Mount HuaLian.”
Wicked fell silent for a bit and then slowly said, “I feel that we shouldn’t trust Ocean’s Heart too much. Somehow, he seems a little strange.”
“But he did save us,” I refuted. “If he wanted to bring us harm, he could have just let us fall to our deaths, or he could have let Scorching Flame bring us to the Dictator of Life to let the Dictator finish us off. Wouldn’t that have been much easier?”
After hearing me say this, Wicked didn’t say anything more. After Wicked had revealed his misgivings, the two of us stopped within the thickets and examined our maps… Okay, I admit that it was Wicked who was examining his map. I made use of the time and took out some food from my bag…
“Prince, are the two of you alright?” Gui asked worriedly.
“Eh?” My mouth was full of food. I looked every which way. Strange, Gui’s not around? Am I hearing things?
“Prince, Prince?” Gui was so anxious that his voice was choked with sobs. Finally, he said hopelessly, “Oh no, Prince hasn’t answered. Has he returned to the Central Continent and rebirthed there, or even worse, could Prince have been…by HD…” After saying this, Gui could no longer continue on, leaving only the sound of spasmodic sobbing.
Lolidragon sighed. “Under those kinds of circumstances, even Prince probably has no way of surviving. Except, with his disappearance, Second Life will no longer have any hope.”
“Then what should we do…”
Hearing all this, Wicked glanced at me with an odd look and asked, “Don’t you plan on responding to them?”
I chewed on the food inside my mouth. After swallowing, I opened the team channel and energetically said, “Hi, everyone!”
“‘Hi my ass!” Lolidragon shouted in exasperation and frustration. “If you’re alive, why didn’t you respond?”
“You shouldn’t talk when you’re eating. That’s basic manners!” I answered with conviction.
“You…” After her anger dissipated, Lolidragon weakly asked, “Where are you?”
“Between a bunch of trees,” I replied honestly.
Lolidragon probably knew that she would get no answers from me, so she directly asked, “Wicked, where are you?”
“We are southeast of Flower City.” Wicked carefully scrutinized the map and said, “Trying to locate the direction toward Mount HuaLian.”
“Mount HuaLian?” Lolidragon asked, confused, as I watched Wicked busying himself with a drafting compass, a directional compass, and other such tools to confirm our bearings. Since he was so occupied, it was up to me to recount everything that had happened just now to Lolidragon.
After hearing everything, Lolidragon suspiciously asked, “Are you sure Ocean’s Heart can be trusted? What if this is a trap?”
I scratched my head. “What if it’s not?”
Lolidragon fell silent for a long time and then said, “Let’s divide into two groups. You and Wicked head to Flower City. We’ll head to Mount HuaLian and check it out.”
“Is Mount HuaLian more dangerous?” I only had to give it a little thought to figure out that Lolidragon must feel that Mount HuaLian was more dangerous, which was why she wanted me to go to Flower City.
“No matter what, I want you to go to Flower City,” Lolidragon said unyieldingly. “Stop being stubborn, Prince. And Wicked, take this guy to Flower City, even if you have to drag him there, dead or alive.”
After Wicked glanced at me, his gaze evidently moved from Mount HuaLian to Flower City on the map. I quickly stared at Wicked with an imploring expression, hoping he would move his gaze back to Mount HuaLian, but Wicked was Wicked after all, and merely said succinctly, “I will only take you to Flower City.”
As expected, there was no room for discussion. Even if I wanted to sneak off to Mount HuaLian, being such a klutz at directions, I think that the probability that I would successfully reach Mount HuaLian was as low as the probability that I could walk up to the Dictator of Life and slaughter him with one strike of my dao.
Speaking of my dao… I suddenly remembered my Black Dao! Reflexively, I reached for the area around my waist. Only the scabbard remained; Black Dao was long gone. I’d almost forgotten that I’d already lost it the moment I was taken away by Scorching Flame.
“Great, I don’t even have a weapon. Am I supposed to use my teeth to bite the Dictator of Life to death?” I was a little discouraged. Losing my Black Dao that had fought alongside me from the start made it so that my odds of killing the Dictator were truly even lower than my odds of winning the lottery.
“Let’s go. I have a general idea of how to reach Flower City.” Wicked stood up and didn’t say much as he started forward.
“Oh.” It looked like besides following Wicked obediently, I didn’t have any other paths to take.
“Wicked, I lost my dao. What should I do if we meet enemies?” I asked worriedly as we walked. Even though my legs were fairly strong, I still didn’t want to use them to fight weapon-wielding NPCs.
“I will protect you,” said Wicked without even turning his head as he guided me out front.
Eh, as a girl, hearing a handsome guy say “I will protect you”… The normal response from a beautiful girl should probably be a delicate and embarrassed “I believe you.” But I clearly understood that the two of us were currently surrounded by enemies, isolated and without help. With just Wicked by himself, our odds of safely reaching Flower City could only be summed up by one phrase: Infinitely approaching zero!
That’s why I still wanted a weapon! I searched my bag inside out. Hahaha, this was great, other than this short dagger (Does everyone still remember? It’s the one that’s shorter than fifteen centimeters in total length), I didn’t have a single weapon. You couldn’t blame this on me. My Black Dao just had to be a growing-type weapon, so I never had to change my weapon whenever I leveled. Since I normally took on every challenge with a single weapon, there was no reason for me to have any extra weapons in my bag.
Just then, Wicked turned around, wordlessly handed me a sword, and somewhat awkwardly said, “Sorry, forget what I just said.”
“Haah.” Wicked turned his body but quietly sighed.
“Wicked.” I looked toward him with a lost expression.
“You don’t have to worry. My sighing doesn’t have much to do with you.” Wicked furrowed his brows deeply.
“Really, it has nothing to do with you.” Wicked sighed again, and then he turned to continue leading the way. He looked like he didn’t want to say anything.
I, I only wanted to ask how this sword was supposed to be used… I’ve never used a sword before! Even though this sword looks unusually good, for a person who’s never used a sword before, it’s quite a waste…Come to think of it, why does this sword look so familiar?
“Wicked, isn’t this the sword you’re currently using?” No wonder it was so familiar. This was the sword Wicked always carried with him!
“Is that a problem?” Wicked turned around to ask, “Even though it can’t compare to your Black Dao, this is the best sword I have.”
I laid my eyes on the sword Wicked had in his hands and saw that it was clearly far inferior to the one I had in my hands. I couldn’t help but clear things up. “I only wanted a sword. I didn’t say I wanted your best one. Besides, with me having your best sword, what about you?”
Wicked raised the sword in his hand. “I have this one.”
“But…” I still wanted to convince Wicked to give me the one in his hands, but he had already turned away once again and didn’t even look back as he continued leading the way.
“I won’t give you something inferior to use!” Wicked said abruptly after a moment.
All of a sudden, I felt like something was burning on my face. It felt… really strange.
“Found you.” A sudden gust of heat attacked, and following these words, an odd creature also appeared. It was a unicorn, a unicorn with a flaming mane.
“Wasting so much of my effort.” Under my shocked gaze, the unicorn suddenly became a red, transparent, humanoid figure. “Hurry and come with me to see the Dictator. Otherwise Ocean’s Heart is going to catch up again.”
“Don’t even think about it,” I began yelling, but Wicked suddenly covered my mouth.
Even though I was a little puzzled, I obediently shut my mouth and let Wicked speak. “Will you really bring us to see the Dictator of Life? You’re not afraid that we’ll assassinate him?”
It was like Scorching Flame had heard something akin to a joke. “Assassinate the Dictator? Hahaha, you’re going to make me die of laughter. The two of you can’t even touch a single finger of mine, yet you want to assassinate the Dictator? Even if the Dictator stood in front of you without moving, you wouldn’t be able to kill him.”
“Xiao Lan.” Wicked suddenly private messaged me, “Listen to me. Later, when I start fighting with Scorching Flame, run away immediately. Go to Mount HuaLian to meet up with everyone else.”
“I refuse!” I left no room for argument. I would never abandon Wicked and run away by myself.
Wicked’s face fell and he used a grim tone to rebuke, “Stop playing around, Xiao Lan. If I die, the most that will happen is that I will return to the Central Continent to wait for everyone’s return, but if you die, our mission this time will be a complete failure. Are you going to betray everyone’s unreserved trust in you, their heartfelt feelings of deciding to follow you?”
“I would never abandon any of my comrades!” I yelled loudly. This was a principle of mine. No one could force me to violate it.
“Prince.” Wicked’s expression was extremely grudging, but his tone had softened.
“Let’s battle together, Wicked.” Without cowering, I stood next to Wicked.
Wicked sighed, but seeing that he couldn’t change my mind, he could only say, “Fine!”
“You want to fight me?” Scorching Flame asked impatiently. “You have no chance of winning. Why do something so pointless?”
I swung the sword in my hand a bit and calmly answered, “Sometimes, even when there are things you know you can’t accomplish, you still have to do it anyway.”
I locked my gaze on Scorching Flame’s figure as I private messaged Wicked, “Wicked, let’s attack from both sides.”
“Okay,” Wicked replied, and then he fiercely said, “Now’s the time!”
Hearing this, I immediately dashed forward. After Scorching Flame blanked out for a second, it raised both hands to quickly summon flames to deal with me, but I dodged past its body, sliding so that I was only three steps away from it. I held my spot without moving.
With Scorching Flame’s attention on me, Wicked also took the opportunity to begin his attack. Almost silently, he rushed forward, looking like he was about to dig out Scorching Flame’s heart, but he was still discovered. It dodged; Wicked only slashed through air.
As I was only three steps away, I immediately began the real attack. “Pure White Inferno Rhapsody!”
My sword successfully made contact with Scorching Flame’s body. Just as I was celebrating, Scorching Flame angrily demanded, “Playing with fire against me? Hell’s Infernal Flame!”
I helplessly watched as black flames scattered, swallowing my Pure White Inferno in a flash, and now the flames were pouncing my way. Feeling the deadly heat, I urgently backed up, my back violently ramming into a tree trunk. I breathed out, only able to watch as the black flames prepared to pounce on me.
“Scorching Flame, look this way!” Wicked didn’t rush over to save me, but rather swung his blade at Scorching Flame, taking the opportunity to lure Scorching Flame’s attention away.
Immediately, I stood up and attacked Scorching Flame in order to rid Wicked of his predicament.
“You have truly angered me!” yelled Scorching Flame with clenched teeth, suddenly starting to form strange hand signs with both of its hands.
“Wicked, let’s attack together. Don’t let it finish those hand signs!” I yelled with great alarm. I wasn’t going to forget that Flowing Wind had the strength to destroy Infinite City. I had the feeling that if I let Scorching Flame complete its hand signs, I was probably going to have to report back to the Central Continent.
As I yelled this, the sword in my hand did not remain idle. I hacked at Scorching Flame without any flashiness… but suddenly, flames erupted from the ground. With Scorching Flame at the epicenter, the ground began splitting open in a snowflake pattern, with surges of flames spilling out from the cracks.
“We can’t stop this anymore. Prince, run quickly!” On the other side, Wicked yelled at me urgently.
I broke into a run, but the cracks on the ground did their utmost to split toward me, and the heat of the flames felt like it was burning the back of my neck. I didn’t even have any time to look back at the state of affairs behind me, and could only hear how the earth sounded like it was almost howling with grief.
An explosion that pierced the sky sounded. I was almost blown away by the ensuing forceful wind that was accompanied by intense flames. Forcefully, I slammed into a tree trunk, the tree splintering before I even had any time to spit a mouthful of blood, and then I was flung out once more by another strong gust of wind and flames.
Before my eyes was darkness, and it felt like a thousand pounds were weighing me down. I moved to touch that weight… Wait, don’t tell me that I was going to meet my end because I got crushed by a tree? Think about it, when someone asks, did you die from confronting the final boss? From confronting the Four Heavenly Kings? Not really, I was blown away by the wind, and then I got squashed by a tree… Uuuu, that’s so embarrassing.
“Prince…” A beam of light and an anxious voice drifted over.
“Wicked!” I yelled happily but doing so caused the wound on my chest to throb with pain. My face immediately lost color.
Pained, Wicked gazed at me and used his gentlest tone to say, “Don’t worry, I’m going to save you right away.”
I watched Wicked’s figure as he did his utmost to push the branches away, suddenly discovering that his body was speckled with blood stains, and his facial color was not any better than mine, yet he continued to risk himself in trying to save me. Even though each time he used his strength led his face to become even paler, even though his blood dripped in red petals…
“Wicked… Zhuo-gēgē.” It felt like something warm flowed through the bottom of my heart. With my heart throbbing, I gazed at Zhuo-gēgē.
After clearing the branches, Zhuo-gēgē very very gently pulled me out. Supporting me, he took out a red potion and slowly poured it into my mouth, and he used a gentle voice to say, “I’m going to use an ultimate technique I’ve never used before. Try not to stand too close, okay?”
“You don’t need me to help you?” I hurriedly got out of Zhuo-gēgē’s embrace, alarmed as I spoke, “Scorching Flame is too strong. I’m afraid you won’t have time to use your ultimate technique.”
Zhuo-gēgē smiled a small smile. “It won’t happen. Once I use my ultimate technique it cannot be stopped, and it does not distinguish between friend and foe. I’m afraid I will hurt you, so you should keep your distance.”
“Oh.” I scratched my head. I think I’ve once again become a burden. That kind of feeling was really unbearable.
“Good, back up slowly.” After Wicked calmly finished saying this, I followed what he said.
As I watched Wicked’s back that left no room for surrender, each step bringing him closer to Scorching Flame, I suddenly had a bad premonition. My backward steps came to a stop for a second, but after I thought it through, I decided that I did not want to become anyone’s burden, so I continued backing up slowly.
“Thinking of running?” Scorching Flame yelled.
“Your opponent is me,” came Wicked’s voice from behind as well. Gripping my weapon, I worried, not knowing if Wicked’s ultimate technique would be effective…weapon! Wicked’s best sword was still in my hands. That horrid sword in his hands would never be enough to engage Scorching Flame in a fight.
Realizing this, I immediately turned, wanting to toss the sword in my hand to Wicked, but instead I saw Wicked walk slowly toward Scorching Flame with absolutely no weapon in his hands. Just as I started puzzling over this, Wicked softly uttered the following words: “ND self-destruct program activate!”
ND…self-destruct program? Could it be that Wicked installed ND on his body? And what is a self-destruct program?
I didn’t need an answer. The sight before my eyes already told me what the ND self-destruct program was. Suddenly, piercing white light burst out of Wicked’s body. I refused to blink as I faced the white light and at last I faintly saw Wicked’s loving smile toward me, and it seemed like he was saying: “I don’t ever want to see you hurt again…”
An explosion! Before my eyes, Wicked and Scorching Flame exploded at the same time. I lost all my strength, falling to my knees as I faced the results of the explosion: white snowflakes drifting in the sky and not a single person standing in the center of the explosion.
“Zhuo-gēgē?” I asked softly, but there was no one to answer me. I almost sobbed as I violently continued, “Zhuo-gēgē? Where are you? Don’t scare me! Or have you already gone back to the Central Continent?”
ND…the purpose of ND is to die together with the NPCs. Lolidragon’s voice just had to come to mind without any tact.
“Wicked…have you disappeared forever?” Vacantly, I reached out with my hand to catch one of the white snowflakes, gentle and soft to the touch. It was like seeing Zhuo-gēgē’s loving and pampering smile.
1 “…resembled Sadako climbing out of a television set…”: Sadako is a character from The Ring, a horror novel that has been adapted to film. She is generally depicted as a gloomy young woman with her face hidden behind long hair, and she is often seen crawling out of television screens. She is part of the cursed video Ring that is said to kill viewers within seven days of watching it.
2 “…I will definitely kill eighteen generations of their family…”: This is a common way of swearing that you’ll eradicate the entire family, from the oldest generation to the newest generation, from great-grandfathers to infants. The eighteen generations part refers to nine generations of ancestors and nine generations of descendants.
3 “Not a phoenix? Then are you a turkey?”: In Chinese, turkey is literally “fire chicken.”
4 “Thirty-Six Stratagems”: The Thirty-Six Stratagems is a collection of stratagems that has variably been attributed to Sun Tsu. The stratagems apply to politics, war, diplomacy, and espionage, often involving unorthodox or deceptive means. They are traditionally divided into six groups based on the situation in which they are best used. These categories include stratagems for winning, dealing with the enemy, attack, chaos, gaining ground, and desperation.