“Cough … cough …” Zeno’s face was red and hot, and he began coughing. His cough was soft, although now that he had started he could not seem to stop, like a kitten mewling with hunger.
Such a small and fragile child, if he was in an ordinary family he would certainly be able to receive adequate care. Unfortunately, he was under the care of Xi Wei; a beggar who could not even guarantee his own safety. It would seem that fate had doomed him.
Xi Wei did not panic when he was left to wander the streets after the deaths of his parents. Xi Wei did not panic when he faced the tortuous pain of accepting the ring earlier on. Even when faced with the Elf Queen, an individual completely outside of his experience, he did not panic. However, when he heard that tiny coughing echoing in his ears, Xi Wei started panicking.
A feeling of fear spread through his chest; it felt like he was being buried snow, and his body suddenly became icy and painful.
Xi Wei clenched his jaw tightly, and forced himself to calm down.
Zeno had not experienced a cold or fever for years. His body was always healthy, his living habits were conscientious, and illness and misfortune seemed to just pass him by. He was not used to this fierce cough and fever at all.
Fevers were usually not serious. He just needed some medication and, if necessary, an intravenous drip were enough to manage.
However, at this moment they were not in the celestial court1. How could a famished eleven-year-old beggar find a doctor on this snowy night to seek medical treatment and medication?
Maybe it was really just a way to throw away this little baby that was going to drag him down.
According to the “Curse” story background, they were living in Hong Yue Continent2. In this land, great significance was placed on the power of magic and martial arts. An ordinary person’s status was very low, and it was very difficult to obtain medical treatment if they fall ill.
Those who can use light or water elements can treat injuries, but their services were not affordable for ordinary people; Xi Wei did not even know of their existence. Some medicines could treat the sick and wounded, but the cost for medical treatment and medicine was far beyond what Xi Wei could dream of spending.
The situation was grave.
While Xi Wei was a precocious little one, he was not a god. He could not save Zeno.
Xi Wei understood just how dangerous a high fever could be. He had a younger brother who was born shortly after his father died. His younger brother had fallen ill less than two months after birth and also caught a cold in the midst of winter. Xi Wei’s mother had resorted to her former profession [prostitution] to make money for medicine, but before she could save enough the baby had succumbed to his illness. Once again, Xi Wei had been left alone.
Thinking about those distant memories, Xi Wei’s face turned a bit ugly.
He looked down at Zeno. Zeno’s breathing was fast and shallow, and his small pink lips had become cracked and dry. The baby was still so small, it seemed that without even experiencing the beauty and misfortune of this world, he would go to see his ill-fated mother.
Although he was unsure why, Xi Wei did not want this little one cradled in his arms to die. He stiffened up, unable to bear even the thought. This feeling was so strange and so intense.
Xi Wei clenched his teeth; his face was so pale that the veins on his forehead were visible. With his meagre bit of remaining strength he carried Zeno out of the cabin. The snow fell incessantly and was even blown below the bridge and onto the small, broken ship.
Hooking his hands below Zeno’s armpits, Xi Wei crouched on the bow and slowly lowered the baby over the edge.
Directly below Zeno was the river. The water was not particularly deep, but it was more than enough to drown a baby.
That little baby was completely unaware of the fate that lay before him. His consciousness became blurred, and he was so uncomfortable he once again managed to free his hand from the swaddling cloths. He grasped around several times before he was able to catch hold of Xi Wei’s dirty shirt cuff.
The little hand was so weak that only a small pull would be needed to remove his sleeve from that grip, but Xi Wei could not do it.
Logic told him that he was not wrong: rather than allowing the baby to suffer from a high fever and then die, it was better to let him go quickly and with little pain. However, his own hands were tightly clamped and he was unable to loosen them.
He moved just a bit closer to the river, the imminent suffering of Zeno causing Xi Wei to suffer as well.
“Please, let him live.” The face of the young mother appeared in his mind, tears streaming down her pleading face.
“Oowah, oowah.” The baby’s cries as Xi Wei struggled with the ring, along with that tiny tear stained face, also appear to him.
The place on his cheek that was touched by that little hand after his encounter with the strange ‘monster’ ached sharply.
Xi Wei was staring at the little creature in his hands. The bottom of the swaddling cloths had already entered the water; he would soon be immersed completely. From then on, he could be alone. He would not have to care for a little baby, and he would not need to divide and share his precious bread again.
In this life-or-death moment, Zeno opens his eyes and hazily glances up at Xi Wei with a seemingly instinctive look of trust and dependence. He appeared very clean and pure, and then he suddenly coughed like a kitten.
This little cough was like an electric shock to Xi Wei. Tightly holding onto Zeno, he dragged him up and scrambled back into the boat’s cabin. His body trembled with the fear that came cascading out of his heart.
To let him live, such heavy words to bear.
Xi Wei pressed Zeno’s head over his chest, not caring about the wet swaddling cloths. He bowed his head and fixed his eyes on a corner of the ship’s deck, an unknown emotion in his gaze.
Suddenly, a sweet voice called out, “Bastard, what’s wrong with you?”
Xi Wei suddenly turned around, to see that Hua Li had returned despite escaping before. She still glowed a soft green that illuminated her pouting face. Her experience with Xi Wei and his knife was clearly fresh in her mind.
However, the warmth and light she carried brought an almost pleasant atmosphere into the rundown cabin.
Xi Wei’s intuition told him that this strange woman may have a way to save the small baby in his arms, but he could not put his trust in her.
Hua Li was not a mind reader, nor could she discern the tangle of thoughts and emotions under the calm appearance of Xi Wei, but she was very concerned about Zeno and looked around for a moment before quickly focusing on him.
The Elf Queen was well behaved; she stayed facing Xi Wei, her small hands protecting her wings, lest they end up being pinched again.
Xi Wei did not stop her from flying closer this time. A seed of hope for help with the child had taken root in his heart.
Hua Li knit her delicate eyebrows together when she could see the state Zeno was in. She loved little children, and Zeno was no exception. Looking at his small eyes that spoke of the nearness of death, she quickly became upset.
“You big bastard, what are you doing? Are you abusing him?” Asked the elven queen, who was approximately the equivalent of a five-year-old.
Xi Wei could only remain silent—he really had thought about drowning Zeno.
“Big bastard, start talking, will you leave him burning up like that?”
With an expression that only betrayed indifference, Xi Wei answered one word, “Medicine.”
After hovering in silence for a short time, Hua Li finally replied in a slightly thoughtful voice, “Well, it looks like he needs Xue Nu3.”
Although the Queen lost her memory, her instincts were still there. After pondering for a few moments she was able to bring out the right information. Xue Nu was the main fever treatment of ordinary people in Hong Yue Continent. It was so named because it was an ice crystal shaped just like a woman. (t/n: please read footnote #3)
Xi Wei committed the name to memory, and then removed the cloak fabric he had cut up and used it to bundle up Zeno. To account for how weak he was, Xi Wei secured Zeno to his chest with the rest of the cloak, aiming to reduce his energy expenditures even a little.
After doing all this, he began to head out.
Curiously watching over him this whole time, Hua li, could contain herself no longer and called out, “Big bastard, are you going to find Xue Nu?”
Xi Wei turned his dark eyes onto the little queen, and Hua Li again shrunk her shoulders under the icy gaze, tears welling up as she asked, “Then can you give me back my stuff?”
Xi Wei did not want to talk to her anyway, he was thinking of either stealing the medicine from the drugstore directly, or stealing money from ordinary people. He quickly weighed the pros and cons of these options, and their respective speeds of execution.
Zeno was running out of time.
Seizing the opportunity to get what she wanted, Hua Li flitted in front of Xi Wei, “Big bastard, I can see how poor you are—there’s no way you can afford the Xue Nu. How about if you give me my things, I can guarantee that this little guy will be safe for three days, so you have more time to buy medicine. ”
Hua Li’s eyes were sparkling, waiting for Xi Wei to acquiesce.
However, Xi Wei only bowed his head and replied, “I … without your … things.”
Hua Li flattened her mouth, “My possessions are useless to you, and if you do not return them to me I will not be able to leave you.” Trailing off into a whisper, Hua Li began crying again.
If Zeno were still awake, he would understand what she wanted.
What Hua Li was missing remained in the ring; her memories and most of her magic. For this reason, she could not stray too far from the ring. Her five-year-old mind did not exactly know what she wanted or why, and Xi Wei did not even know what was stored in there.
Just by virtue of instinct, Hua Li felt something important to her was stored on Xi Wei and she must get it back; despite being ignorant of the true nature of what she wants.
As Hua Li spoke, crying all the while, Xi Wei did not remain idle. He took advantage of her relaxed vigilance and pulled the same trick as before. Once again he captured her wings, and with a knife against her neck, threatened her in a detached manner, “He cannot … die, or … kill you.”
In an attempt to strike a deal for herself with the use of her abilities, the pitiful Hua Li somehow managed to divulge her weakness. She had no moral concept of how Xi Wei lived, failing to consider how this information could be used against her.
Zeno finally woke up without making a sound, keeping completely still. The sight that greeted his eyes left him shocked; he was tied to the protagonist’s chest and the Elf Queen was sitting on his shoulder with a look that said she has suffered a great injustice.
Hua Li began to continuously transmit a gentle and warm energy into Zeno’s temples. With relief from the fever, the headache he had experienced was alleviated, and the frequency of his cough also decreased.
Zeno stared earnestly when all this was happening; sure enough this is the plot at work, the main female character’s specs cannot be taken lightly.
I was looking at the characters for Xi Wei’s name for fun, 希维, and the first one seems to mean Hope, and the second has a few possibilities, Safeguard being one of them. Because then it’s like his name means “Protects Hope”. I thought it was pretty sweet. Although world-including suicide doesn’t quite match up…Also, one spot translated ML’s name as Shevchenko in this chapter lol!!!
- Celestial court – to be honest I don’t know what he is getting at here since this would refer to some higher realm I think, it seems like a sarcastic remark about their current surroundings to me. ↩
- 红月– Red Moon [Continent] – Hong Yue is the pinyin, and for locations I think it sounds nicer/more legit that way ↩
- Xue Nu -雪女 – pinyin for Snow Woman. It needs that name because it’s a very literal description, but I don’t think it flows well with the story so I’m opting not to change to the English version. ↩