½ Prince Volume 7: Life, Fading Away
Original novel in Chinese by: 御我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 3: Gui’s Kindness – translated by Nausicaä
I didn’t know how long I had been kneeling in that same spot, with nothing but a feeling of absolute emptiness in my heart. I should have known. What sort of ultimate technique could Wicked possibly have to defend with, alone, when facing Scorching Flame of the Four Heavenly Kings? There had to have been some trick for him to have made such a decision!
It was simply too late when I finally realized this. Wicked had already disappeared from Second Life, along with Scorching Flame. The only thing I could do now was to take revenge for him by killing the real instigator behind all of this: the Dictator of Life!
I wiped away my tears and stood up. What I had to do right now was to go to Mount HuaLian and meet up with the others. But… I looked to my left and right, and then back again. Why does this forest look all the same to me? Which way am I supposed to go? This… even more than Wicked’s self-destruction, this was the one thing that made me feel weak in the legs… I really hope that I can get to Mount HuaLian by myself!
I had no choice but to consult with Lolidragon first. I opened the PM channel and asked, “Lolidragon?”
“What? What’s wrong? Don’t tell me you guys have already reached Flower City, you can’t be that fast?” Lolidragon asked dubiously.
I was just about to open my mouth and explain my present predicament, when I was suddenly struck by a thought. Besides Lolidragon, there is virtually no one else who could have set up that ploy with Wicked and the ND self-destruct program. Then, doesn’t that mean everyone has the ND self-destruct program installed inside them?
The reason they did it was to help me eradicate all the enemies that blocked our way to the Dictator of Life! Furthermore, they didn’t tell me precisely because they knew that I would definitely be opposed to it.
If I reached the Dictator of Life together with them, wouldn’t that mean I would have to look on helplessly as the others lay down their lives to blow themselves up along with the enemy? By the time I reached this realization, my face had already turned very pale. I definitely do not want to see anyone else turn into snowflakes.
“Prince? Did something happen?” Lolidragon kept calling my name, as though she had discovered that something was amiss.
However, I didn’t reply, and simply closed the PM channel without a word. I looked at the surrounding forest and murmured to myself, saying, “If I climb to the top of a tree, I should be able to see where Flower City is, right?”
As I predicted, once I had busily scampered up to the treetop like a monkey, I spotted a very large city with a spire in the middle, on the very top of which was even a sculpture of an extremely large rose… Sure enough, it was Flower City!
After making certain that I would be going in the right direction, I slid down the tree trunk, and I began to advance toward Flower City one step at a time. Although it is a bit lonely traveling by myself, it is still better than watching the others blow themselves up.
“Haven’t you forgotten something very important?” a voice couldn’t resist reminding me.
“What important thing?” Was there such a thing? I cocked my head and thought hard.
“If the Dictator of Life really were at Mount HuaLian and not Flower City, wouldn’t that mean your companions are headed directly for certain death?”
“Oh yeah!” I had almost forgotten, Ocean’s Heart had said that the Dictator of Life was at Mount HuaLian… Wait a second, who’s talking to me?
I turned my head… and behind me stood XiMen Feng, who was even making a “victory” sign with both hands!
“I can’t believe it—Wicked’s death must have come as such a great shock to me that I’m actually hallucinating and just imagined that I saw XiMen Feng.” Amazed, I shook my head, and looked back again. Yet, the victory sign-posing XiMen Feng was still standing there.
“What? Wicked’s already gone back to the Central Continent?” shouted out a gloating XiMen Feng. “Yer daddy was right. Without yer daddy, you, sonny, would definitely go down in utter defeat.”
I pointed a shaking finger at XiMen Feng. “H-how come you’re here?”
“What’s that supposed to mean? Yer daddy also wants to kill the Dictator of Life.” XiMen Feng complained resentfully, “Who knew that all of you guys would move so fast? By the time yer daddy hurried back to Infinite City, there wasn’t a single person left.”
Hurried back to Infinite City? XiMen Feng can’t possibly mean that after being blown sky-high by AnRui, he had only just hurried back to Infinite City, right? Are you serious? I thought with disbelief. Just how far did you fly off to?
“Haha, just as yer daddy was hoppin’ up and down in rage by the sea, that damn clam came back,” XiMen Feng said with a smug expression on his face. “Of course yer daddy ordered him to take yer daddy to the Northern Continent. You were kiddin’ yerself if you thought that yer daddy would let you youngsters do somethin’ as grand as killin’ the final boss, then take all the glory for yerselves!”
“…” I was left at a loss for words.
“But yer daddy hadn’t even come ashore when yer daddy saw a horde of monsters, forcin’ yer daddy to sneak up through the forest.” XiMen Feng heaved a sigh while shaking his head. “Yer daddy ended up not knowin’ where the heck he was. If yer daddy hadn’t heard the gang makin’ a riot over the team channel, yer daddy would’ve thought that you were all long dead!”
I had stopped paying attention to XiMen Feng’s babbling nonsense and was in the middle of pondering where I should go next. To Flower City? Or Mount HuaLian?
I didn’t know if XiMen Feng had detected my unpleasant mood, as he actually shut up and stopped with the “yer daddy this, sonny that.” But he immediately spoke again, “Sonny, it seems like the gang is plannin’ to come lookin’ fer you!”
“Looking for me?” I asked, greatly startled.
“Yeah. You closed the team channel, so they’re worried out of their wits and saying they’re going to come find you,” XiMen Feng answered, looking as though he was listening intently to something.
I also immediately opened the team channel to find out what was going on.
“Something must have happened to Wicked. Otherwise he wouldn’t have stopped responding to us,” Lolidragon said worriedly.
“Don’t worry, Ming Huang has already gone offline to ask,” Wolf-dàgē responded calmly.
After a long while, Ming Huang’s voice could be heard. He sounded very heartbroken, and while suppressing his emotions with great difficulty, he said, “My brother’s character disappeared. He used the ND self-destruct program on himself against Scorching Flame of the Four Heavenly Kings and turned them both into ashes.”
Everyone fell silent. Finally, Lolidragon spoke up, “Since Wicked has disappeared, that guy Prince doesn’t have anyone taking care of him! And now he absolutely refuses to answer, so who knows what he’s thinking? We’d better go and find him first!”
Upon hearing this, I closed the team channel again. Since now I knew that they were coming to Flower City to find me, I no longer had to worry about them meeting the Dictator of Life at Mount HuaLian. Alright then, I’ll set off to find the Dictator first, and hopefully I’ll be able to take care of him before everyone arrives at Flower City.
“Alright, to Flower City!” I decided.
“Alrighty, yer daddy will go with you to kill the final boss!” XiMen Feng shouted excitedly, a glint of anticipation in his eyes.
I hesitated a bit. “You… don’t have the ND self-destruct program installed on you, do you?”
“Huh? Indie cell-distract probe fan? ” XiMen Feng repeated with a baffled expression on his face. “What’s that? How come yer daddy’s never heard of it before?”
“…Pretend I never asked.” Three dark lines descended down my face. I should’ve known that XiMen Feng hasn’t ever grasped the present situation.
“Let’s go.” I immediately started walking toward Flower City.
“Prin—Sonny! You’re walking in the wrong direction,” XiMen Feng yelled hurriedly.
Eh? Is that so? I scratched my face as I was dragged along by XiMen Feng. Weird, why does it seem like XiMen Feng is acting a bit pushier than usual today?
“XiMen Feng, after AnRui brought you here, did he leave again?” I asked absentmindedly. Darn that clam… would it have killed him to stay and help out?
“Since AnRui hates getting involved so much, I wonder who was actually able to make him come and act as our transport.” No matter how much I racked my brains, I still couldn’t figure out just who would be able to force that clam off its bum.
“It could be the Dictator of Life himself,” XiMen Feng said solemnly. “Even though I don’t know the reason, it’s clear that the Dictator of Life is helping us reach the Northern Continent. Yet on the other hand, he’s also trying to prevent us from advancing. I really don’t understand what his true intention is.”
“Is it really the Dictator of Life?” I really didn’t understand the mentality of a final boss. He wants us to come, but at the same time he is desperately trying to stop us. What’s he playing at?
“I think it should have been him,” replied XiMen Feng, his brow also furrowed in thought.
I suddenly felt very strange, as if something were out of place… Just what could it be? I stared at XiMen Feng’s furrowed brow, feeling rather strange… Oh yeah! I shouted in surprise, “XiMen Feng, you—”
XiMen Feng’s body suddenly stiffened. “What’s wrong with yer daddy?”
I bore down mercilessly upon him. “You’re just as directionally challenged as I am! Acting all like you know where you’re going… If you’re really able to lead me to Flower City, then I bet I can swim back to the Central Continent on my own.”
“Th—this is…” stammered a wide-eyed XiMen Feng, looking as though he was at a loss for words.
“Luckily, I’ll be able to see if I climb a tree.” Immediately I nimbly climbed up to the top of the tree. XiMen Feng, the bastard, was even more directionally challenged than I was after all! We had been walking in precisely the direction leading away from Flower City.
Once again I slid down the tree trunk, and waved to XiMen Feng. “It’s this way.”
XiMen Feng remained rooted to the spot, staring stupidly at me.
Seeing him like that, I curled my lip irritably. “What? You don’t want to come with me? Then you can go find the others by yourself.”
“I’ll come with you, no matter where you want to go,” XiMen Feng said with a smile, and followed me.
Something still feels weird. Isn’t XiMen Feng acting… rather differently than usual? I thought hard. How is XiMen Feng different from before? He seems to be… gentler? I shook my head violently. It is inconceivable that the word “gentle” can actually be used in conjunction with XiMen Feng. I am definitely imagining things!
When the city walls of Flower City were already within sight, I found myself faced with a predicament. How should I sneak into Flower City? Considering that there were probably some hundreds of thousands of NPCs crawling all over the place, I really didn’t feel that with just XiMen Feng’s help I could simply disregard the mobs of enemies and charge our way through to the Dictator of Life.
“If the Dictator of Life really were in Flower City, then he would definitely be in the Central Tower,” XiMen Feng shrewdly analyzed. “That is where the defense would be the strongest.”
“The Central Tower!” Inwardly, I sized up our present situation. How could I possibly get to the Central Tower? Unless you were an NPC, any player that entered Flower City would definitely be slaughtered… Right, an NPC! I hurriedly asked, “Is there any way the two of us can disguise ourselves as NPCs?”
“Um, generally speaking, it’s not possible,” XiMen Feng said with some hesitation.
“Then, that means there is a way?” From the way he spoke, it sounded like XiMen Feng had some sort of idea.
In a rather defeated tone, XiMen Feng replied, “Yes, a while ago Lolidragon happened to develop a device that can be used to change one’s appearance.”
“Then what are you waiting for? Hurry up and take it out,” I demanded rather unhappily. If XiMen Feng had taken out this device earlier, I wouldn’t have had to stand here racking my brains for a way to get into Flower City.
XiMen Feng pulled out of his bag a strangely shaped… plastic wrap!
Plastic wrap, as the name implies, is a clear plastic film used to preserve things. When bought, it often comes in a cylindrical shape, and upon opening it, one can pull out a very long sheet of clear, plastic film that can be used to wrap up food, which can then be placed in the refrigerator, preserved, and thus keep any foul smells from spreading. Moreover, it can be used to steam nice tasty eggs. In short, for a housewife and her cooking needs, it is an indispensable treasure… But, I seemed to remember that what I wanted was a disguising device. What is XiMen Feng giving me this plastic wrap for?!
With flames practically shooting out of my mouth, I reached out with both hands and closed them around XiMen Feng’s throat. Here we were, facing an extremely serious situation, yet this guy still had the nerve to play around with me!
“Wrap this around your body, and then say the name of the person whose appearance you want to take!” XiMen Feng frantically yelled, as he could do little else in the face of my wrath.
“Oh.” I immediately withdrew my hands from XiMen Feng’s neck, took the plastic wrap, and hastily began to “preserve” myself… I felt like a mummy being wrapped in transparent bandages.
I finally understood what it felt like to be a fish wrapped in plastic wrap. My entire body, including my eyes, was wrapped in the plastic wrap. Besides standing, I couldn’t do anything at all… although I could probably still jump straight up.
“Prince, just say the name of the person whose appearance you want to take,” XiMen Feng reminded me.
“…Scorching Flame.” I considered for a moment. If I want to get close to the Dictator of Life, it would definitely be best to turn into one of the Four Heavenly Kings. Furthermore, Scorching Flame has already disappeared along with Wicked, so I won’t have to worry about running into him.
The name had barely left my mouth when the film on my body suddenly began to tighten… Alright, I admit that Scorching Flame was a lot slimmer than me, but there wasn’t any need for it to be this tight. Moreover, my body felt so hot, it was as if I were being roasted over a fire. I couldn’t keep myself from moaning in pain. My god, not only am I being tightly wrapped in plastic film, now it feels as though I’m stuck inside a microwave.
Can it be that XiMen Feng is an NPC in disguise, and is planning to devour me after putting me in the microwave? Wild thoughts swirled uncontrollably through my mind right before I passed out from the heat.
Ow, where am I? I can’t be inside the fake XiMen Feng’s stomach, can I? I shook my head vigorously, trying to get rid of the feeling of dizziness.
“Sorry, I forgot to tell you that the transformation process isn’t very pleasant,” said XiMen Feng… No, this wasn’t XiMen Feng’s voice. I whipped my head up to look, only to see someone that I shouldn’t be seeing here.
I stared blankly at him. The Execution Squad can’t have found me this quickly…right?
Celestial smiled. “I’m not actually Celestial. You turned into Scorching Flame, so of course I will need to turn into another NPC as well. We can just say that Scorching Flame has caught the traitor Celestial, and is bringing him back to report to the Dictator of Life.”
“That’s a good idea.” I got up, and happened to notice that my own hand had turned into some red, semi-transparent foreign-looking entity. I looked down at the rest of my body, which was half translucent. It made me feel like a… ghost.
“Let’s go!” I gathered my courage and, dragging the “traitor” Celestial who had been captured by “Scorching Flame,” I headed toward the main gates of Flower City.
I walked straight into the city. As expected, the number of NPCs inside was as innumerable as the players within Infinite City. Moreover, they were crawling all over the place. If I had brazenly charged in, I probably would have had to prepare to go back to the Central Continent after breaching just a meter past the city gates.
But right now I was Scorching Flame… Hehe, as expected, not a single NPC stood in my way. Dragging “Celestial” along like so, I steadily approached the Central Tower, drawing ever closer to my target: the Dictator of Life.
“Stop right there!” A cold voice suddenly rang out. What was even more frightening was that I seemed to have heard this voice before.
Taking a deep breath, I turned to face this newcomer, who turned out to be none other than Flowing Wind. I coolly asked, “What do you want?” In any case, right now I, like Flowing Wind, was one of the Four Heavenly Kings, so there was no need to be courteous with him. Besides, based on the short time I had known Scorching Flame, I had the feeling that he definitely had not been a person of good temperament.
“You caught Celestial?” Flowing Wind asked with a surprised expression on his face.
“Yeah, and I was just about to bring him to see the Dictator,” I replied.
“Why don’t you just fly? What are you walking on your legs for?” Flowing Wind asked suspiciously.
Ugh, although this technique of disguise can transform me into another person, it can’t give me that person’s abilities… but I couldn’t very well say that. I thought about it, and came up with a forced excuse. “Hehe, I wanted to take my time beating this guy up. If I flew to the Dictator right away, where’s the fun in that?”
Flowing Wind laughed raucously. “But of course, let me teach him a lesson too.” Having said this, he actually threw a punch at XiMen Feng, knocking him onto the ground.
Seeing that Flowing Wind was aiming to land a few more blows on XiMen Feng, I hurriedly blocked him. “Alright, that’s enough. Better not let the Dictator find out.”
“Alright.” Upon hearing the Dictator’s name, Flowing Wind had no choice but to stop, albeit very reluctantly.
I quickly helped XiMen Feng up, and threw him a worried glance, which he returned with a reassuring smile.
“Flowing Wind, something serious has happened!” a child’s voice urgently shouted. “Scorching Flame is dead and the Dictator of Life has flown into a rage.”
“What? Scorching Flame is dead?” A strange expression appeared on Flowing Wind’s face. He stared at Clay Child, and then looked at me.
I’m so dead. I was just about to break into a run and flee, when the whole sky shook with a terrible voice that was filled with rage and grief, wailing, “Why did they kill him?” “Scorching Flame didn’t do anything wrong!” “Damn all of you humans!”
“The Dictator of Life!” I looked toward the Central Tower. The Dictator of Life was in Flower City after all—Ocean’s Heart had given us false information.
“Hurry, run to the Central Tower,” XiMen Feng reminded me.
He was right. Right now we were up against two of the Heavenly Kings. If now wasn’t the time to flee, I didn’t know when would be. I immediately broke out running at top speed, but still remembered to shout at XiMen Feng, “Don’t follow me, XiMen! Run toward the city gates, I’ll lure them to the Central Tower—XiMen Feng?”
Shocked, I watched as XiMen Feng spread out both arms to block the path of Flowing Wind and Clay Child. He lightly uttered the very words that I never, ever wanted to hear again in my life, “ND self-des—”
Not waiting for him to finish, I struck out with my foot, kicking XiMen Feng down onto the ground so that he was unable to get up. I viciously growled, “Do you take me for an idiot?”
I stomped, kicked and punched him. “Did you think I couldn’t tell that you were different from the usual XiMen Feng? How could XiMen Feng be as clever, as gentle, and as big of an idiot as you, who thinks only of sacrificing yourself for me?”
I kept hitting him, but couldn’t keep myself from choking on my tears as I cried out, “Stupid Gui!”
XiMen Feng…no, Gui stiffened, then raised his head and gave a wry smile. “You found out?”
“I wasn’t sure at first, but when you shouted to activate the self-destruct program—how could I not have known?” I shouted, “You purposely walked in the direction opposite of Flower City in order to lead me to the others, right? I refused to follow you, and yet you said that you were definitely willing to stay with me. Who else could you be besides Gui?”
“I’m sorry, Prince. I didn’t mean to lie to you, it’s just that when I saw Wicked blow himself up, I knew you definitely wouldn’t let me come with you, so I…” Gui slowly got up, and gently held me in his arms.
So you pretended to be XiMen Feng, and even as you were about to blow yourself to pieces, you refused to tell me you were Gui… I also embraced him back tightly and cried bitterly, “Wicked, Wicked’s already gone! Don’t leave me too, alright?”
“Please don’t cry, Prince. If you cry, both Wicked and I will feel very sad,” Gui gently comforted me.
“Then you have to promise me that you definitely will not use the ND self-destruct program,” I said, looking straight at Gui, not wanting to give him any chance of evading me.
Gui smiled, but did not say a word.
“Gui?” I asked, a bit afraid. Gui’s smile was so gentle… so gentle, that it made me feel afraid.
“Chains of Love,” Gui softly recited.
My heart jumped, and looking down, I saw that semi-transparent chains were twisting themselves around my body… Gui was going to blow himself up! Panicking, I yelled, “Gui, I forbid you from disappearing! If you disappear, I definitely, definitely won’t go looking for you!”
The back of Gui’s body stiffened, though he calmly faced Flowing Wind and Clay Child, and asked, “Can you let us go?”
“Is Scorching Flame really dead?” Flowing Wind demanded, holding back his temper with tremendous difficulty as the air surrounding him began to churn in turbulent gusts. Anyone could see that Flowing Wind would fly into a rage at the slightest sign of assent from Gui.
“Yes,” Gui answered serenely.
“You guys killed him!” Clay Child looked angrily at Gui with red-rimmed eyes, while Flowing Wind fixed a hateful glare on me.
Gui turned to me with a bitter smile. “It looks like there won’t be a happy ending, Prince. You and Wicked couldn’t kill Scorching Flame… With the two of us against Flowing Wind and Clay Child, do we have any other choice?”
“We can escape,” I said, trembling as I struggled. Why are these bonds so damn tight?
“Don’t struggle anymore, Prince. Those chains are like my love for you… they will never, ever let go.” As Gui’s smile became even more tender, it made my heart ache even more painfully.
“No!” I couldn’t stop myself from screaming. “Gui!”
“ND self-destruct program activate!” Gui softly called out.
A flash of blinding white light burst forth, and sounding as though he were about to cry, he gently said, “I still want to meet you, Prince.”
Bang! The ear-splitting sound of a violent explosion tore through the air, followed once again by those exceedingly beautiful white snowflakes falling from the sky. Was this Gui’s blood, Gui’s flesh, or Gui’s heart? I couldn’t hold back the tears that filled my eyes. In my heart, all that remained was the image of a dark-haired demon with amethyst eyes, a man who always left his smiles for me, but kept his tears to himself.
“Gui… why did you sacrifice yourself?” I cried out. “I came to Flower City on my own because I didn’t want to see any of you die for me! Yet you still gave up your life, what the hell is up with that?”
“Gui, you idiot! Idiot!” I yelled hoarsely.