After “jiejie1” popped out, the surroundings went completely still for a moment; even Zeno himself was a little surprised. He had worked hard for a long time, hoping to have a “heart to heart” exchange with his protagonist, but slow laryngeal muscle development has made this wish difficult to achieve. At best, he can only babble messy, meaningless syllables. Perhaps, because he has been diligently practicing for so long, he was able to succeed this time.
Zeno’s blood drains from his face as he turns to look at Xi Wei, finding that he has returned to complete calm. Deep within, his heart is silently trampled by a herd of cattle, as he mourns the disastrous waste of his first words.
Clearly he wanted to call out to the protagonist first ah! How could Xi Wei not get sucked in by the meng, you do not understand! (t/n: oh yes we do )
Instead, he did not expect to give a response to Xiao Wu, who, full of excitement, is trying to make Zeno speak to her again.
But, the heartbroken Zeno has already released the hand holding her braid, and buried himself in Xi Wei’s shoulder, full of grief and indignation. Not willing to have any interaction with Xiao Wu, Xi Wei does not say a single word and turns to leave immediately.
Due to their mutual dislike, Xi Wei seems disinclined to conceal his character. He is simple and crude, and he really does not care if he is exposed. If you can’t hide the broken pot, you might as well throw it away2.
Xiao Wu is shocked when he treats her like air. She has probably never met anyone who refused to give her face. Her cheeks flush deep red, and she stomps off in a huff in the opposite direction.
Although they have not been outside for long, the recent excitement leaves the cautious Xi Wei reluctant to stay out in the open. As soon as he feels they are not safe, fear and uncertainty will drive him to return to the safety of their home.
Zeno begins to reflect on what had gone wrong, and all of this can only be attributed to the Elf Queen!
Hua Li often goes out, not returning until the moon reaches its zenith. She spends much of her days in the boat speaking to Zeno, which sadly sounds a bit like she just talks to herself all the time. Because Zeno is still like a foreigner to this world, every time she shares her stories he listens very seriously.
The little tot’s small, round, black eyes focus intently on Hua Li when she speaks. This made her so happy that she began trying to teach Zeno to say “Jiejie”, but unfortunately she had not been successful.
If the Elven Queen found out that all of her efforts for so long had mistakenly been paid off to Xiao Wu so easily, what kind of expression would she show?
Closer to home, they return to the small, broken boat around noon. Xi Wei digs out some of the wild herbs from the corner of the boat cabin that they had not eaten before, mashes up the fresh heartleaf, pulls out some collected grass juice and combines it all for Zeno to eat; this is lunch.
Although the taste is not outstanding, compared to the winter food, Zeno has been very satisfied. This fresh kind of meal life in a life spent half-hungry is unforgettable.
Small children are always more sleepy. Lying on his side while enjoying watching his protagonist eat his own meal, Zeno’s eyelids begin to grow heavy.
Through his drowsiness, an already familiar voice sounds, followed by a cold but reassuring hand brushing across Zeno’s short, fluffy hair, “Do not sleep.”
Zeno immediately knows something is happening, and looks up into Xi Wei’s impenetrable gaze. He instinctively feels a little guilty, wanting to retreat back. However, Xi Wei easily grips the back of his clothes, and pulls Zeno up, fixing him within his extremely oppressive sightline, “Talk.”
Zeno’s brain received the signal to speak, and the conditioned reflex of his mouth was to blurt out, “Jiejie.”
He wishes he could slap his own face the second that word leaves his mouth, even if he can only speak one sentence, it is better not to say that!
Xi Wei thoughtfully stares at his crying face for a long while, then reaches for a small piece of wild herb that he had gathered earlier. He holds it out towards the little one, “Cai3.”
Zeno did not even know what he should cry about at this point. Protagonist, can we just take this step by step; if you throw a difficult line at me it will not just happen like that.
The truth is, even though he could somehow understand the language the people of this world spoke, Zeno does not actually know it. The pronunciation is impossible when compared with the language he spoke on Earth. For example, when it comes to the continent, the Chinese pronunciation of Hong Yue is “%# ¥”. Before Zeno came to this world, English was a major weakness for him; learning a new foreign language is bound to have the same results again.
In the meanwhile, the rookie father is but a child who has no parenting experience—neither taking care nor receiving. All he can do is repeat “cai” to Zeno’s face continuously.
# It’s not that I do not want to cooperate with you ah, I’m seeking to reduce the difficulty #
Just like that, one teaches and one learns, half the day passing without any accomplishment.
Zeno begins to hate the common virtues of all the protagonists of the X family. Perseverance and patience come in full force, as Xi Wei apparently does not have any impatience, nor does he speak coldly. Rather he works hard, and encourages him conscientiously to say “cai”.
Finally, Zeno feels that he needs to do something. He reaches with his two small hands, pulls the herbs out, holds the protagonist’s delicate hand, and in good faith shouts, “Baba!”
Thanks to the language system of the Hong Yue Continent, just like any language in any world—no matter how complicated it is, the pronunciation of mom and dad are all very similar. Here is no exception.
Xi Wei’s fingers stiffen.
No matter which 10-year-old it is, when a kid is suddenly called ‘dad,’ he must be thrown into a very complicated mood.
Xi Wei finally stops trying to compel Zeno to speak; he has found something new to do.
That is, to teach Zeno to walk, as well as how to speak properly. This has reminded Xi Wei that he could not tie Zeno to himself his whole life, so he began to seriously address the issue of his ‘education’.
Above their broken boat was a nearly abandoned arch bridge that people rarely walked on. Although it is very old, there are no safety issues. From that day onwards, after they finish eating, the protagonist takes Zeno up to the arch bridge. He has Zeno hold onto the bridge railing for support on one side while he stands on the other side of the bridge, and then signals the little one to move towards him.
Zeno, filled with melancholy, is reluctant to move away from the railing. Ever since he blurted out ‘baba’ that day, it was like opening the door to a new world for Xi Wei, he now has ‘passion’ and goals to aim it towards.
The chill of early spring still hangs in the air, and a cold gust of wind blows by. Zeno sneezes, taking a look at the other end of the bridge where the protagonist waits, then lifts one short little leg while trembling.
One step, no problem, another step, plop—on the ground.
After the nth fall, Zeno remains laying on the ground, seriously thinking back to how, in his last life, he had learned to walk.
These skills that he always took for granted, trying to pick them up again from scratch is very difficult.
Fortunately, his protagonist lives in a world where mercenary soldiers can go three days and nights with nothing to eat or drink, survive an ambush, and still fight bravely. So, these little set backs, he will not let them get him down.
Once again, Zeno is placed in position, and Xi Wei turns to head back to his side of the bridge. Zeno wants to complain; we are not the Cowherd and Weaver girl seeking a way across the universe4.
But he does not dare, and can only rely on his own efforts.
Xi Wei takes two steps, then feels a little pull on his leg. When he looks down, a cute little smile with four neat little white teeth peeking out meets his eyes. Two tiny hands clutch his pants, while the baby stands unsteadily, looking like he could fall down at any time, but is still, in a sense, walking.
Xi Wei maintains his facial paralysis completely as he and Zeno look at one another. Unrelenting, he does not allow this type of cheating shortcut, and mercilessly breaks the grip of the little one.
A soft ‘blonk’ sounds as Zeno falls to the ground again.
Xi Wei continues towards his position.
Through it all, Zeno will not admit defeat. He makes the same move every time Xi Wei brings him back, and every time he is repositioned.
Xi Wei is not annoyed by this move. Any person can tell that the protagonist could actually avoid the baby each time, but he deliberately slows down, pretending not to know a thing.
Time passes quietly, and Zeno quickly gains the skills of speaking and walking while enjoying the fundamental advantages of being richly endowed by nature. He does not have to worry about keeping face, shouting “Baba” all day long, but can still depend on his older sense of consciousness to learn faster.
After all, they are not far from Fenhong Street, if they sincerely want to do so, they can find anyone. What’s more, the scar-faced man’s forces in Ye Sa City are also some of the best5.
Recently, Zeno is distressed, and is faced by a major problem. That is, as he grows up day by day, his dirty clothes become progressively tighter. The protagonist even cut his clothes in various areas so they open up, in order to prevent them from being too constricting. In the end, his clothing is basically just rags, but fortunately the weather getting hot so he is not chilled.
If this goes on, he will just be a streaker!
These days Xi Wei will go with Zeno to practice walking often. He is now able to walk steadily, but it is still necessary to walk and exercise. After being carried around for so long, Zeno had grown quite bored.
“Little one, wait up,” screams a little girl from far.
Zeno grabs Xi Wei’s little finger and turns to see Xiao Wu. When Xiao Wu sees that Xi Wei intends to ignore her she is immediately disgusted with him. She quickly runs and touches Zeno’s little head, satisfied after getting her ‘jiejie’ greeting.
Xi Wei remains silent. He takes Zeno’s hand and walks back and forth over the arch bridge. He does not care about the hostility directed towards him by Xiao Wu, and does his own thing.
Xi Wei always acted this way. He does not want to be in touch with Xi Lun or Xiao Wu; he maintains constant vigilance towards and guards against them. However, he knows very well that with his own abilities he cannot get away from them, and can only choose a silent refusal.
Hua Li is always trying to avoid him, and Xiao Wu is on the verge of confrontation, always searching for some fault, but Xi Wei simply ignores their naive provocations. What to do?
Zeno, on the one hand, is in awe of the protagonist’s meng side—he is so cool! On the other hand, he is worried that if he acts so cold he will not find a good sister for the future!
Which sister would like her sweetheart to be so cold!
Xiao Wu often encounters the boys after that day. She usually brings some delicious food. Xi Wei never takes any food, but he does not stop Xiao Wu from giving it to Zeno.
Today, Xiao Wu uncharacteristically raises a paper bag, looking Zeno over mysteriously from head to toe, feeling more and more satisfied. She reaches into the paper bag and pulls out some clothes. Although they are a bit old, they are clean and in good condition.
Zeno is relieved; he will not end up being a streaker.
Returning to the boat’s cabin to change clothes, a confused Hua Li was driven out to where Xiao Wu stood waiting. With Hua Li being familiar with her, the two little girls sharing a common language, and the fact that elves are sensitive to human malice if it is directed towards them, she has become very fond of Xiao Wu and her purity.
Zeno follows Xi Wei into the boat to change clothes, very excited, while Xi Wei remains deadpan. When it is time to change, Xi Wei makes a strange pause before he helps Zeno into the clothes. Zeno thinks that his protagonist is perhaps unskilled because of a lack of experience in dressing children, so he pays it no mind.
After changing, Xi Wei pulls the little baby out of the boat cabin. The waiting Xiao Wu and Hua Li are positively sparkling, and their eyes are all stars.
Zeno suddenly feels that something is wrong; they are just too happy. He finally looks down only to find a bow, the clothes look nice, it is very comfortable, but this is a dress ah!
Xiao Wu started to explain excitedly, “I got baba to bring out my childhood clothes, and I just knew that they would be the perfect fit for this little cutie.”
Zeno faintly looks at the two over-excited sisters, helplessly struggling between streaking and wearing women’s clothing.
I wanted to get this out faster, but I couldn’t. C’est la vie! I’d like to shout out to the random day when the country with the second highest number of hits was Kuwait. That was pretty neat to see. I still love seeing where people read from. Have a great week. Thanks as always to the people in my discord group for all the help with the tricky parts.
- I didn’t add it last time, but on the off chance you don’t know, this means older sister. Referring to female friends or relatives.
- Just me, using vague context clues to make up sayings again. I always: ask opinions, google the Chinese characters, google some combination of the English, and then if nothing works either leave it out or make it up. I’m pretty bad huh.
- Cai – 菜 – vegetable or wild herb. While it makes sense to try to teach a baby the monosyllabic cai, vegetable is a bit of a mouthful. So, I left the pinyin in.
- A Chinese folk tale. Many variations, Vega and Altair are the stars used, but they were lovers banished to opposites sides of the universe (galaxy). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cowherd_and_the_Weaver_Girl
- These lines seem to be completely unrelated to what was being talked about. I left them there, but I don’t know why he suddenly talks about this.