After several days of on and off rain, the riverside has become so muddy that every time Xi Wei takes a step his foot is swallowed in mud. Zeno’s leg bone seems to have suffered a tiny fracture, and if he walks he cannot help but limp slightly, so he has been recuperating.
Since coming back home, Zeno finds that he is indeed unable to see from his left eye. Despite carefully thinking, he really cannot remember when he could have hurt his eye. When his right eye is closed, his left eye has no sight—but it is not absolute darkness either. Instead, his vision is a hazy white, as if he is attempting to peer into a dense fog.
If he is actually blind in that eye, then all he sees from it should be darkness. Since this is not the case, Zeno is left to ponder what is actually going on.
Since his kidnapping, Zeno experiences slight, intermittent headaches. He does not want to give trouble to his protagonist, so he quietly endures. After all, he is not a real child; he knows how to roll with the plot to sell Meng. What they need is a cute and sometimes spoiled baby, not a whiny one with a long face.
Today, like every day, Xi Wei gathers some clean water, and wipes the wounds on Zeno’s knees and palms clean. Although there is no concept of antibacterial medicine in this world, the people still understand that it is not good to leave wounds dirty.
Zeno is still not accustomed to having vision in only one eye, so when he tries to look at people he is always unconsciously looking at them off-kilter. Xi Wei corrects him several times, but it is without results.
Zeno grows increasingly more bored just sitting in the boat cabin. After a few days he is no longer able to hold back, he really wants to go out and walk, so he decides to try selling Meng, “Baba, the sun.”
Xi Wei takes a look at him and says nothing. Zeno immediately wilts and lies down as if dead. The protagonist is currently very sensitive about going out. When Zeno shows any desire to leave the home, he is silently supressed by Xi Wei.
Just as he is preparing to ignore his headache in order to sleep, Xi Wei lifts him up out of the blanket. Zeno is somewhat surprised at the sudden strength of Xi Wei, since he had recently grown a lot. It has been a long time since the protagonist has carried him around. From the beginning of his stumbling attempts at learning to walk, for Xi Wei to carry him around would be very difficult, so they would only hold hands to prevent Zeno from falling.
However, Zeno soon feels relieved; this is one of the effects following the refinement process. According to “Curse,” although Xi Wei is not yet a martial artist, his physical strength is twice that of a normal adult man. Holding a child that is about one year old is naturally not a problem.
Zeno is no saint; since Xi Wei is powered up, then allowing himself to enjoy the halo of the protagonist should not be too problematic.
After several consecutive rains, the weather is clear, and the people in the city can finally breathe comfortably in fresh air. Zeno lies shoulder-to-shoulder with the protagonist for a long time without doing anything. They walk along the riverside, bathed in the gentle sunlight, while Xi Wei holds Zeno in his arms. Time seems to return to the past; they pick heartleaf along the river every day—as if they had never parted. No matter what they have experienced, in the end they are together.
Along with Xi Wei’s physical fitness, his toughness has also greatly increased. Within a few days, all of his serious wounds had scabbed over. His resiliency is astonishing.
Zeno rouses slowly from his slumber, and thinks it is time to go outside. He does not realize he slept through his usual wake up time, and finds himself lying on something quite soft.
He is shocked. His hand is lifted and held by a delicate, warm hand.
Zeno is lying on his right side, so his left eye that cannot see is on top. He can easily tell that the touch of the hand is not rough like his own protagonist’s. He starts to panic, fearing he has, once again, been kidnapped. His emotions fluctuate and the needle-like pain in his head comes, more violent and intense than usual.
Zeno’s face quickly pales due to the pain, and he involuntarily begins sobbing.
Xiao Wu is bewildered by the little one’s sudden and inexplicable cries, she did not do anything, ah, why are you crying?
Originally, Zeno had been lying on Xiao Wu’s legs, sleeping peacefully.
The 10-year-old girl1 is suddenly flustered and did not know where she went wrong. She has no choice but to pat Zeno’s back awkwardly and try to remedy the situation.
The people standing outside the room can naturally hear the sounds of weeping. The first to rush in is Xi Wei, and without a word he takes Zeno in his arms. His lips form a tight line as he gauges the cause of the current mood. As soon as he sees the familiar protagonist, Zeno immediately quiets and smiles diligently at Xi Wei. He does not want the protagonist to see that he is uncomfortable; he may have a headache, but he is not actually hurt.
Xi Wei presses his bald little head onto his chest and coldly orders, “Do not smile.”
Zeno is amused by his protagonist, but since Xi Wei does not want him to smile—he will not smile.
With that burst of pain and fear in the past, Zeno feels much better, and his face is not so pale anymore. Now it is Xiao Wu’s turn to feel depressed; is she so scary that the little one would burst into tears upon awakening? Yet, that scary beggar could calm them down in seconds.
Xi Lun leans past to comfort his daughter, “Xiao Wu darling, you know I love you the most, come let baba give you a kiss.” The scar-faced man was jealous to death of how much Xiao Wu doted on the little one.
Xiao Wu did not hesitate to kick her shameless father right in the face, and, finding it was not enough, leaned forward to follow it up with a bite to his cheek.
The thick-skinned, scar-faced man immediately smiles, in a good mood—people are so generous.
“Boy, bring that little guy and come with me,” he says, pushing Xiao Wu along in front of him, he takes the lead with the expectation that Xi Wei will follow.
Xi Wei bows his head quietly, and follows along two steps behind, as is his habit. Zeno is quite confused for a moment. The protagonist had actually taken the initiative to come to Fenhong Street to find Xi Lun and Xiao Wu, and he is not sure why.
Xi Wei’s mood is very heavy. He has always been very calm, but also firmly believes that no matter what happens, if you start trouble then you’re only looking for death. Only the calm and clear-minded have a greater assurance at life, but his existence at the ignored and invisible bottom class of society automatically makes things more difficult for him. Xi Lun was actually quite shocked to see him show up at his door.
Before today, Xi Wei never knew that someone would treat himself so brutally.
The drunk, Bob, who took Zeno, often wanders around Fenhong Street. As a veteran trafficker, Xi Lun will resort to many means to buy and sell flesh, but rarely has to. Bob, on the other hand, is the type that has to rely on purely underhanded methods to maintain his livelihood; even in the underworld his heart is blacker than most.
This type of person should have been extremely selfish and cunning. However, when the scar-faced man takes Xi Wei to see this man—he can only see an utter lunatic.
His consciousness is clearly not all there; all of a sudden he giggles, then the next minute he is crying.
He has a brutal wound that spans his entire face. It is so gruesome that it is difficult to look at, and the rumours say it is completely self-inflicted.
Xi Lun explains that Bob was nothing like this before, and the reason his behaviour is so different is because of a psychological attack.
Thinking of the meaning behind these words, Xi Wei’s hands tremble slightly; his black hair covers his eyes and his expression. The scar-faced man also explains to him that those called magicians employ this type of spiritual attack. It is an intangible method of attack, and as long as the attack hits its target properly, they will be rendered completely insane.
At the time the changes came over Bob, the only other person with him was Zeno—a seemingly weak and harmless little tot.
Xi Lun allows his sleazy smile to linger, “Kid, your son has magical talent, but he cannot control himself now. If you continue to stay with him, maybe one day you will become crazy, just like that lunatic over there.”
Xi Wei replies with only a single word, “Proof?”
So, now they must embark down the road in search of evidence.
Zeno, ignorant of the current turn of events, does not understand that his fate is once again in question. Soon, they enter a strange black house located in a dingy side street.
Saying it is black inside is not quite right, in fact, it is just a dim due to a lack of light because the doors and windows are all closed and blocked off. The only person inside the house is a skinny man, dressed in a black, hooded cloak, which only exposes a pair of muddy little eccentric eyes. When he sees them enter, he does not even bat an eye.
Carelessly slapping the eccentric man on the back as he sits at a table in the room, Xi Lun jovially speaks, “Old man, see who I’ve brought with me!”
The strange man finally lifts his cloudy eyes, sweeps them over Zeno and Xi Wei, and then opens his mouth and issues forth in a hoarse voice, “Xi Lun, did I not say that unless your Fenhong Street is about to be demolished, that you are not to bother me?”
Xi Lun continues without a care, “That is because you do not know what I brought.”
The old man gives a weird smile, “Is your precious daughter willing to learn magic with me?”
“No, but here’s a kid with better talent than Xiao Wu, I think you’ll be quite pleased.”
The strange man finally seems to hear something of interest, once again looking at the two strange children, “Which one?”
While Zeno looks back and forth with puzzled eyes, Xi Wei quietly raises the smaller one up in front of him.
The man’s small, eccentric eyes narrow, and he reaches his skinny fingers out to grasp Zeno’s small head, holding on for quite some time. Zeno is terrified.
Xi Lun strokes his chin, “Xiao Wu’s test showed that she has an affinity with the light element, and because of this she cannot learn anything from you. This kid here is more suitable.”
The strange man touches his eyes and flashes a fanatical glow, muttering ‘good’ over and over under his breath, and then takes out a fist-sized crystal ball. He pulls Zeno’s little hand up to touch it, and the crystal ball immediately becomes more colourful and brighter.
The odd man finally stands up, excited, “Such a small child has such high spiritual power. Simply a genius!”
Xi Wei cautiously holds Zeno back, refusing to allow the strange man to touch him again.
“Boy, is this your child? Give it over to me, and I’m sure that I, Gray, will be able to train a dark magician who is able to stand at the very peak of the continent!”
Xi Wei stands quietly, expressing his rejection with silence.
Gray, as if expecting this from the start, adds, “Of course, I will not take something for nothing. I can give you a lot of crystal coins, with those you can eat and drink your whole life without a worry, and you will no longer have to live the life of a street rat. You can even become a noble—how about it? It’s fine to have a baby now, but what happens when you’re ready to start a new life and you’re still left with this little one to deal with2?”
Xi Wei remains silent, unmoved by these enormous temptations.
Xi Lun watching the fun, comments, “Boy, say something ah, this village would not miss someone who goes into this shop.”
Zeno tightly grips his protagonist’s sleeves, crying nervously, “Baba!” He does not want to leave Xi Wei to train with the strange old man. If he walks away, who will help Xi Wei turn away from his original fate, and also become the peak power of the continent or something. Never mind that, after 18 years he just wants the mainland to still exist ah!
Besides, except for Xi Wei, he does not want to be with anyone else.
Xi Wei drags him close, as if finally remembering the current situation, and coldly replies, “I do not need money.”
Zeno finally has peace of mind.
Magician Gray is apparently a little surprised, but he is not put out at all. In fact, he once again lets loose a huge bomb, “Boy, do you know how dangerous it is to be a self-awakened magician? One’s spiritual power will grow without limits, and if no one teaches that person how to use it, they would not be able to control themselves. At this rate, probably after a period of seven or eight years, this little one will unconsciously use spiritual attacks on any nearby people, and those attacks cannot be blocked without magical means.”
Xi Lun goes on to deliver the second blow, “Boy, you must leave the child here to learn, or not only will you be turned into a lunatic within a few years, but the same thing will happen to all the people around you. So, do you still refuse?”
Xi Wei once again lapsed into silence.
It seems that between letting Zeno learn magic from Gray, or taking him away, only a fool would choose the second over the first choice, right?
It’s been a while since we have had a new character that is likely to be a regular! Hopefully interactions with him will bring some answers on Zeno’s eye. I’ll be working on the next chapter of RAAS after this.
As a treat (???) here is some fan art that I drew. Because I don’t think that there is any for this novel. It’s from the very beginning when Xi Wei first has a bad time with the ring and Zeno reaches out and touches his cheek. I’ve been meaning to share it but forgot. I’m not that great, and can only draw chibis, but, I’m forcing you to look at it. So…if you want to give it a try, I want to see it!! I had to borrow inspiration from pinterest how-to’s haha!
- I can’t remember how old she is, or if it’s been mentioned, but this is what the author has. I thought she was only 6? But I was quickly reading through some older chapters…forgot how much I like this story. Also, I’m going to need to do a really solid proofread when I’m done this story (ugh, embarrassing). If you remember, please tell me!
- 拖油瓶 – The term here was a “drag bottle” which is a derogatory term referring to the children a woman brings from a previous marriage to a new one. I decided to try and just make the sentence flow, but thought I’d include the thought here.