Compared to Xi Wei’s hoarse voice, this one rang out sweet and shy. It must be the voice of a younger sister1, but she actually should not appear at this time and place.
Zeno and Xi Wei were motionless, but quickly snapped out of it and turned towards the source of the sound.
Because the previous events within the cabin had left it at sixes and sevens2, all of Xi Wei’s meagre possessions were scattered about. In the middle of the cabin, one of the broken porcelain bowls was upside down, and standing on top of this bowl was a delicate little person.
She had long green hair, a perfect melon seed face3, slightly pointed ears, and was wearing a lovely green, mid-length dress. Fluttering gently on her back was a pair of transparent wings that were just allowing her tiptoes to rest on the bowl. Her entire person emanated a gentle green lustre.
Zeno was completely shocked; this, my friends, was an elf!
After the initial shock, Zeno soon remembered the identity of this cute sister. She was the most popular female character in “Curse”, the Queen of the Elves—Hua Li.
Knowing in his head was one thing, but seeing the real-life version of the thumb sized girl felt really magical. Her small, cute stature was so lovely; everyone who saw her could not help but want to protect her.
Well, not quite everyone—Xi Wei was not interested in protecting her at all.
After seeing that the words had come from Hua Li, Xi Wei took up the knife once again, and clenched it tightly as his body rippled with tension. His stoic face did not reveal the weakness he felt after his painful experience just now.
Blinking, Hua Li caught sight of the rusty knife in Xi Wei’s hand, and her shoulders slightly bowed, a trace of fear colouring her delicate features.
In general, with only the reflection of the moonlight and snow at night, it was difficult to see others’ expressions. Unfortunately for Hua Li, she radiated her own light, and there was no hiding her expressions.
In Zeno’s heart, he held some hope for Xi Wei’s future love life. Hua li was one of the best harem candidates in “Curse”, and was very highly thought of amongst readers of the novel.
Prior to meeting them, Hua Li had been sealed within the ring. Xi Wei, recognized as the new master of the ring, had accidentally released the Queen of the Elves residing within. Having just been released, Hua Li was missing about 99% of her magic power, and her memory was in a state of chaos. She possessed the mentality of a five-year-old child, and she was ignorant, but also quite…meng4.
Zeno was also ignorant!
I was wrong, I just knew that Xi Wei had a glittering gold finger, but I forgot “Curse” was such an oppressive text; the spoils of his gold finger were not so easy to obtain.
The role this ring played in the future was great; therefore the cost that must be paid was also great. The first part was recognizing its master, followed by the agony of the ring drilling into bone. Any person would find it hard to bear this pain that radiated down to their very marrow.
In the novel, Xi Wei did not bond with the ring for another five years. At that time, he was no longer a small beggar, but a promising young man with enough mental and physical strength to tolerate the painful process.
Suddenly thrust into such a difficult situation, it was a miracle that Xi Wei could even speak. Left with almost no energy, Xi Wei remained pale and weak, struggling with every movement.
In this world from “Curse”, Zeno knew that in the original ending Hua Li was among those who betrayed the protagonist. Looking again at the pocket sized Elf Queen; he contemplated the suitability of his initial ‘meng’ thought.
Since it started, Zeno had been different from other readers; the protagonist and the plot were the only two things from the novel that could affect his state of mind.
Xi Wei’s black eyes nervously locked onto Hua Li, who anxiously returned his stare, time seemingly frozen between the two.
Zeno could not help but think of details in the novel surrounding their initial encounter that carried somewhat sensual undertones. Unlike the original work, there were no lingering looks up and down one another’s body, but rather eyes filled with mistrust. Their age was totally different, and Zeno really did not want to think about it anymore.
As a reader who did not need to experience the moment, whether it was a male or female supporting character, in his opinion they were only puppets to promote the development of the story. However, now that the story was playing out right in front of him, Zeno could feel a sense of panic welling up within his heart.
Xi Wei cautiously observed this small, incredible ‘human’ before him.
A 16-year-old healthy and experienced Xi Wei, and a small beggar struggling on the verge of death for eleven years, of course, had different levels of acceptance of fantasy.
Therefore, the protagonist of “Curse” could calmly analyze the origins of Hua Li and composedly make the final decision on how to utilize the Elf Queen for the greatest gain. At the present moment, Xi Wei could only draw back the bowstring of the situation, at risk of firing an arrow at the wrong target.
A lot of things differed, not just the timeline of their meeting.
“Eyah…ba ba…goo” Zeno babbled out, forgetting that he was now a baby, working so hard to say something and letting out only meaningless chatter.
Xi Wei’s thin body stiffened for a moment.
Hua Li shifted her line of sight, rested her eyes on Zeno, and the panic in her eyes was replaced by stars5.
She unconsciously fluttered her small transparent wings, and gracefully flew towards the little baby. As she reached out to touch him, she suddenly found herself unable to move any further.
In the moment she moved, Xi Wei watched closely as she neared the baby, and the instant she reached out to touch him he grabbed her wings between his two fingers, before pulling her to look at him face to face.
Suddenly, the cute face in Zeno’s view disappeared, and he was left looking at the dirty, expressionless face of the young beggar.
Xi Wei, expressionless, bluntly asked, “Human? … Or a monster? Why … so small?”
Zeno almost vomited blood, I am afraid that only the protagonist of this house would ignore the beauty of the Elf Queen, and calmly ask if she was a monster!
However, it was still meng ah, no matter what he does, the protagonist was simply awesome. The hopeless addict’s brain was tickled pink, as he moved excitedly in his spot on the floor.
Filled with shame, Hua Li became furious, pedalling her legs in Xi Wei’s palm trying to break free, “You are small, you are small, your family is small!6”
Zeno subconsciously looked over at the young protagonist, then down to see his own small arms and legs, and finally looked around the cramped cabin, silently. They were all small.
Hua Li was just like a five-year-old child, and because Xi Wei pinched her tightly enough that she could not get loose, she started to cry. Despite her tiny size, the volume she produced was not small, and it buzzed in Zeno’s ears.
Xi Wei’s face was impassive, even the little baby that was all but forced on him did not cry like this; the ‘monster’ was too annoying.
Hua Li’s crying was in direct opposition to Xi Wei’s principle of remaining inconspicuous, and she did not seem to realize she was in imminent danger. The more she cried, the louder it got, and the closer it came to being audible outside the boat.
Xi Wei pushed Hua Li onto the boat deck, pulled out his knife, and brought it down mercilessly.
Hua Li cried out as half of her long green hair was shorn off.
Adjusting his grip, Xi Wei immediately moved to bring down his blade again without a second thought.
Long-term near starvation and his recent experience with pain had left him so weak that the hand holding the dagger was a bit shaky, affecting his aim.
Without thinking Zeno squeezed his eyes shut, but the sound he was waiting for did not come. Opening his eyes a sliver, he saw Hua Li with tears streaming down her face—not daring to make a sound.
In front of Hua Li was a transparent, light green barrier that the knife could not pierce. She was the Elf Queen, after all. No matter how weak she currently was, she was not someone a weak child could easily harm.
However, Hua Li was still terrified, whining continuously. “Big bastard!” she spat out, crookedly flying away from the dangerous person in front of her.
After his draining day, Xi Wei no longer had the strength to support his body. He lay down next to Zeno, breathing heavily, and then recalled the incredible scene that had happened. The reality caused him to immediately start sweating profusely, soaking his entire body.
Being forced to only watch his protagonist all day as he grew increasingly exhausted and frightened, Zeno struggled to reach his tiny hand out from his swaddling cloths in order to wipe away his sweat.
He still overestimated the baby’s control over his body, and as a result his little fist made intimate contact with Xi Wei’s cheek.
Xi Wei seemed to understand this kind of concern and his face relaxed a bit. He soon reached over and tucked the flailing limb back into its cocoon.
Now that the tension had been relieved a bit, Zeno began to feel chilled.
The snow continued to fall outside, and the little baby would occasionally shiver.
Zeno felt a bit odd. Although this world was not warm, the cold was due to the frigid temperatures that seeped in through the skin and went down to his very bones. Now, however, he felt a chill slowly spread from his core, and his whole body began to tremble.
Xi Wei quickly noticed the little baby was not well. His small face was flushed red and he kept shaking in his arms. He placed his cold hands gently on Zeno’s face and forehead and felt a burning heat.
Xi Wei was shocked.
This little one had a fever.
I had a lot more notes about this one. Enjoy! If you happened to come really early, for some reason the novel names all disappeared. Likely something to do with HTML. I fixed it.
- Younger Sister – not in the biological sense ↩
- Sixes and Sevens – in a state of total disarray ↩
- Melon seed face – one of the ideal shapes in Chinese culture, it is oval shaped with a pointed chin. Would it be preferable to leave these terms as is or put them literally? I don’t find they translate well culturally so I’m not sure if it’s distracting within the story. ↩
- Meng – Chinese equivalent to the Japanese term Moe ↩
- I think this is what it means: ↩
- I’m mostly confident she’s trying to insult Xi Wei/Zeno here with the same insult she receives. ↩