Until they left Fenhong Street, Zeno could not regain his composure. Xi Lun’s men, surprisingly, did not further investigate their situation. They only asked a few questions before letting them go. Of course, they would not receive any more xue nu. Xi Lun may have been kind to them, but this was not a charity.
However, as long as there were no accidents, Zeno had no worries—this was good news.
Thinking carefully about what just happened, Zeno realized that the scar-faced man simply did not seriously want the protagonist to complete the task. He just wanted to see what he would do to satisfy his own curiosity.
In this context, Xi Wei’s performance showed that he had long felt he could not analyze all the options, outcomes and their consequences. Despite this, his inherent sense of danger made him acutely aware that Xi Lun held no malice towards them.
Xiao Wu’s father was really interesting.
This whole matter had only been a brief interlude. Now that the matter passed, they had to go back to the broken cabin and follow their original path.
Fenhong Street grew livelier as night approached. People from all walks of life gathered and the area slowly adopted a chaotic atmosphere. Xi Wei clutched Zeno and walked quickly and inconspicuously along the wall as usual, quietly leaving the area. Those seeking the pleasures of the night had no time to pay attention to this humble beggar; thus the night provided them with a gentle protection.
The snow had not yet disappeared, so Xi Wei must lift his feet appropriately to move through, and occasionally he slipped on an icy patch. Zeno felt that these moments were warm and tranquil, even the blood-red moon that should be strange had a unique beauty to it.
Zeno, as an orphan, should be accustomed to a lonely life after years of solitude. However, he found that in the short span of only two days, through his actions, Xi Wei completely touched Zeno’s heart. He was no longer merely a character from a book, but a real person—the most important person in Zeno’s life.
As they crossed through the waterways and streets of Ye Sa City, Xi Wei soon began treading on familiar ground. Before long they returned to their small, broken boat.
To their surprise, Hua Li had actually returned long ago. Bored of flying around, she was waiting for them.
Xi Wei’s pupils contracted a bit, then he immediately bowed his head and ignored the presence of Hua Li completely. He snuggled Zeno in; if the baby slept he would not feel hungry.
Hua Li quietly fluttered her dainty wings and searched quickly until she found a slightly clean corner of the boat to settle in peacefully.
Zeno had been very tired these past two days. What happened in merely 24 hours almost completely subverted his knowledge of the past two decades. He also spent a lot of effort trying to pretend to be a qualified infant, so he fell asleep instantly.
In accordance with the normal course, they should not be in this life together. They have already crossed paths they should not yet have reached, but things do not always happen as one thinks they will.
From winter to spring, the coldest and toughest season of the year finally passed. Although it was just three months, it felt particularly long, and Zeno spent the most unforgettable winter in this world.
This winter, he met the protagonist of his favourite novel, and he has been following that protagonist and eating his leftovers. They trekked to every corner of the frigid city, every day, just to find something to eat.
The only thing to be thankful for was that Hua Li seemed to be very interested in the little baby, and she would bring back nectar1 to share with Zeno every time she disappeared. Of course, the ‘big bastard’ Xi Wei did not get a share.
The type of food that could safely be given to young babies was scarce, and Xi Wei could only find a limited amount of food. If only a very small portion of food was found, Xi Wei would often starve himself to feed Zeno first. When Hua Li returned with nectar it really helped the boys out a lot, so from the bottom of his heart Zeno was very thankful to her.
Hua Li also refrained from asking Xi Wei to return her possessions2. Even though she wanted to, memories of Xi Wei’s violence frightened her into silence.
Zeno suspected that the betrayal by the Elf Queen had some hidden secret behind it. Hua Li has hopefully been directed away from this, kept busy helping him. He also wanted to eliminate the hidden danger. Even if he could not become good friends with Hua Li, he did not want to send her in the enemy’s direction this time around.
Since the emergence of the spring season, Xi Wei started to collect soft green heartleaf3, an edible plant that grows along the banks of the river. Except for during the cold of winter, it grew plentifully year round, and has been their staple food since spring arrived.
Zeno began to grow teeth two months ago, but still could not eat many solids. Xi Wei mashed the heartleaf in the broken bowl and fed him the resulting grass juice. Heartleaf tasted a little bitter and Zeno wrinkled his face every time every time he ate it—it was a bit hard to swallow.
After three months in a different world, Zeno finally completed a psychological shift from a normal office worker to a small, wandering beggar. Xi Wei still seldom spoke. Zeno was, in fact, a little bit nervous. People were social animals, and not everyone had the psychological capabilities of this protagonist to be at peace and content with silence.
Fortunately, Hua Li always chattered on, complaining about the ‘big bastards’ around town and sharing anecdotes from her travels outside. This prevented Zeno from suffocating in the silence.
Allowing his thoughts to wander about, Zeno rested his chin on his protagonist’s shoulder, enjoying the warm spring sunshine for a moment. All of a sudden, the drowsy Zeno heard a weak sobbing.
The sound was a little familiar. Xi Wei also appeared to have heard, but he did not pause, showing every intention to keep moving forward. He completely intended to refrain from looking back and ded not care about why the owner of the voice was crying.
Zeno’s face was naturally pointing in the opposite direction of Xi Wei’s, and his curiosity led him to crane his neck towards the source of sound. The only thing he could see was a fuzzy little figure hiding beneath the bridge not far away, crying tragically.
Despite that, her iconic scorpion braid revealed her identity; it was actually Xiao Wu!
Thinking about it, they were not too far away from Fenhong Street. Although it was not directly connected, it was not completely impossible that Xiao Wu would appear here. Because the scar-faced man loved her so much, how could he allow his precious baby girl to cry alone?
Looking slightly further along, two armed warriors stood by. It seemed that this was a family business matter. Since it was a family conflict, in addition to the fact that Xiao Wu was prejudiced against the protagonist, Xi Wei would only cause himself trouble by going over.
Let’s pretend we didn’t see it!
Xi Wei lightly patted the baby’s back, and Zeno took the hint. He immediately stopped twisting around, and tucked his head back into the hollow of Xi Wei’s neck.
“Hey, you picked a lot of heartleaf today,” called a familiar voice, and someone stopped in front of them.
Xi Wei was forced to stop, his eyes indifferently sweeping over several people gathered in front of them.
Zeno’s heart skipped a beat. It’s over, why has he already come? He even brought backup.
The one who spoke was a wandering little beggar like Xi Wei. Yesterday, he wanted to snatch their heartleaf instead of putting in effort to gather his own. As a result Xi Wei, who was pretending to be afraid, took the opportunity to kick him into the river, and it took him half a day to climb out.
Pretty good vitality for such a small guy.
Although Zeno was not worried yesterday with the dominant protagonist, today they would have to worry about their safety.
What were the odds? Is there one stratagem in the 36 that could ensure success?
Zeno was even carefully figuring out who he could bite with his own, brand new, sharp little teeth.
He came to the conclusion that they were probably frustrated, and if they simply did not resist, they could allow the other party to hit them until they were bored. Then they should leave.
Such moments were always particularly difficult, and the two boys probably felt similar to sacrificial offerings before they were sacrificed.
“Stop!” The slightly hoarse voice of a girl suddenly burst out, breaking the tense atmosphere.
No doubt, it was Xiao Wu. Her strong sense of justice once again emerged. She would not allow this bullying of the weak to happen in front of her own eyes.
Right now, the term ‘saint mother’ was a derogatory term. If any light novels wrote in a saint mother female lead, people would spit on it. However, after being supported by their own saint mother, Zeno hated that the world could not be filled with saint mothers.
The teens were totally surprised. They did not have a clue where the bean-sized little girl that angrily stomped in between them came from. The little girl was wearing clean and tidy clothing, and her red eyes betrayed that she just cried.
The leader was not a fool. One look at the girl’s dress revealed that in Ye Sa City, she must belong to the ‘aristocracy’4. They could not afford to provoke people of her level.
They were unwilling to leave without settling the score, but if they did not go, they were afraid they would get into trouble.
The boys’ faces were twisted.
Xiao Wu, unaware of their tangled thoughts, could only see their fierce expressions. She felt a bit of fear creeping in, and involuntarily withdrew two steps. As long-term street dwellers, the moment they found her shifting to timid behaviour and lacking confidence, they changed. One by one, they retrieved their own courage.
“Young lady, that boy robbed our heartleaf. Wanting to take back our own stuff is not excessive, right?” This was the famous opening one’s eyes to tell a lie5.
Xiao Wu, puzzled, looked behind her, and this look simply angered her down to her heart. She did not expect that it would actually be that bastard. She just wanted to preserve justice, but failed to pay attention to whom it was she was protecting.
After a separation of three months, Xiao Wu still clearly remembered the little beggar. Throughout her childhood, her father and the surrounding warriors spoiled her thoroughly. Only Xi Wei cheated her and ‘humiliated’ her. Just thinking about it made her eyes even redder.
The teens watch the scene play out in front of them, their grins growing larger, as they geared up—ready for a fight.
Who knew Xiao Wu would turn back, “You, do you take me for a fool? He is alone, taking care of a baby. How could he grab your stuff?”
The teenagers were surprised for a moment, then angry, and now they completely disregarded whether or not they would offend the ‘aristocrat’. They proceeded to surround Xiao Wu to teach her a lesson together.
Xiao Wu only has empty justice; since the other party had force on their side she could only wait for the pain.
Fortunately, Xiao Wu was not an ordinary girl. The two warriors quietly following may have no way to help her with the tears she had shed, but how could they not control these young teens looking for death?
Xiao Wu watched on as the warriors finished picking up those troublemakers and escorted them out, and thought back to her quarrel with her father. She found herself growing upset again, and then clutched her face and started crying.
A soft little hand caught Xiao Wu’s scorpion braid, gently tugging it. Although the strength was not enough to really attract her attention, the little girl realized that there were still others nearby, wiped her face in a quick attempt to disguise her tears, and stood up.
The one who entered her vision was Zeno, baring cute milk teeth with his little smile. Xiao Wu’s hand lifted towards him, she just wanted to give his cheeks a good pinch.
Even though babies usually grab at everything they could, Zeno used his full strength to pull on Xiao Wu’s braid. He did it even though his own protagonist’s eyes warned him to let go and ignore her.
Xiao Wu was still very fond of this cute little one, and seeing that he was teething made her very curious to feel his mouth. However, before she could lay a hand on him, Xi Wei nimbly dodged her attempt.
Xiao Wu pouted, voicing her displeasure, “Let people touch if they want ah!”
Xi Wei was silent as always, and his movement was very fast. He had no intention of allowing Xiao Wu to touch Zeno’s baby teeth.
Zeno giggled musically. Xiao Wu showed a rare serious face, and then started baby talking, “Call me jiejie, come on little one, say ‘jiejie’.”
Zeno obeyed, “Jiejie.”
The pronunciation was awkward and not standard, but it was indeed true speech; he spoke his first sentence in this world.
Thanks to the precious people from my discord who help me with the tough stuff—Cici, Ying, and Rei. I started translating a second project on my site, Screen Partner, but it should not interfere with this. I also edit for two projects you can find on NU: Strongly Pampered Male Wife and Runaway Guide. Check them out if you have time!
- 花蜜 – Nectar – literally flower honey, so I’m not sure if it’s from a special flower of some kind, but there’s nothing to indicate it has any special qualities. ↩
- I’m calling it possessions but recall that it’s more intangible, her memories, her power etc. I didn’t really have a good word that worked in the context. ↩
- 的鱼腥草 – Houttuynia cordata – a plant native to Japan, Korea, Southern China, SE Asia. Pinyin is Yuxing Cao. Goes by many names. I picked the one I liked the most. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houttuynia_cordata ↩
- So you say her dad is a crime lord—not an aristocrat. Well, you’re right, but this city, if you’ll recall, is rife with crime. So rather than having inherited nobility, it would seem that those with money/power are on top. ↩
- Means you lie all the time ↩