After several days of on and off rain, the riverside became so muddy that every time Xi Wei took a step his foot was swallowed in mud. Zeno’s leg bone seemed to have suffered a tiny fracture, and if he walked he could not help but limp slightly, so he has been recuperating.
Since coming back home, Zeno found that he was indeed unable to see from his left eye. Despite carefully thinking, he really could not remember when he could have hurt his eye. When his right eye was closed, his left eye had no sight—but it was not absolute darkness either. Instead, his vision was a hazy white, as if he was attempting to peer into a dense fog.
If he was actually blind in that eye, then all he should see from it was darkness. Since this was not the case, Zeno was left to ponder what was actually going on.
Since his kidnapping, Zeno has been experiencing slight, intermittent headaches. He did not want to give trouble to his protagonist, so he quietly endured. After all, he was not a real child; he knew how to roll with the plot to sell meng. What they needed was a cute and sometimes spoiled baby, not a whiny one with a long face.
Today, like every day, Xi Wei gathered some clean water and wiped the wounds on Zeno’s knees and palms clean. Although there was no concept of antibacterial medicine in this world, the people still understood that it was not good to leave wounds dirty.
Zeno was still not accustomed to having vision in only one eye, so when he tried to look at people he was always unconsciously looking at them off-kilter. Xi Wei corrected him several times, but bore no results.
Zeno grew increasingly more bored just sitting in the boat cabin. After a few days he was no longer able to hold back. He really wanted to go out and walk, so he decided to try selling meng, “Baba, the sun.”
Xi Wei took a look at him and said nothing. Zeno immediately wilted and lay down as if he was dead. The protagonist was currently very sensitive about going out. When Zeno showed any desire to leave the home, he was silently supressed by Xi Wei.
Just as he was preparing to ignore his headache in order to sleep, Xi Wei lifted him up out of the blanket. Zeno was somewhat surprised at the sudden strength of Xi Wei, since he had recently grown a lot. It had been a long time since the protagonist had 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 felt relieved; this was one of the effects following the body-tempering process. According to “Curse,” although Xi Wei was not yet a martial artist, his physical strength was twice that of a normal adult man. Holding a child that was about one year old was naturally not a problem.
Zeno was no saint. Since Xi Wei was powered up, then allowing himself to enjoy the halo of the protagonist should not be too problematic.
After several consecutive rains, the weather was clear, and the people in the city could finally breathe comfortably in fresh air. Zeno lay shoulder-to-shoulder with the protagonist for a long time without doing anything. They walked along the riverside and bathed in the gentle sunlight, all while Xi Wei held Zeno in his arms. Time seemed to return to the past; they picked heartleaf along the river every day—as if they had never parted. No matter what they experienced, in the end they were together.
Along with Xi Wei’s physical fitness, his toughness had also greatly increased. Within a few days, all of his serious wounds had scabbed over. His resiliency was astonishing.
Zeno roused slowly from his slumber, and thought it was time to go outside. He did not realize he slept through his usual wake up time, and found himself lying on something quite soft.
He was shocked. His hand was lifted and held by a delicate, warm hand.
Zeno was lying on his right side, so his left eye that could not see was on top. He could easily tell that the touch of that hand is not rough like his own protagonist’s. He started to panic, fearing he had once again been kidnapped. His emotions fluctuated and the needle-like pain in his head started again, more violent and intense than usual.
Zeno’s face quickly paled due to the pain, and he involuntarily began sobbing.
Xiao Wu was bewildered by the little one’s sudden and inexplicable cries, she did not do anything, ah, why was he crying?
Originally, Zeno had been lying on Xiao Wu’s legs, sleeping peacefully.
The 10-year-old girl was suddenly flustered and did not know where she went wrong. She had no choice but to pat Zeno’s back awkwardly and try to remedy the situation.
The people standing outside the room could naturally hear the sounds of weeping. The first to rush in was Xi Wei, and without a word he gathered Zeno in his arms. His lips formed a tight line as he gauged the cause of the current mood. As soon as he saw the familiar protagonist, Zeno immediately quieted and smiled diligently at Xi Wei. He did not want the protagonist to see that he was uncomfortable; he may have a headache, but he was not actually hurt.
Xi Wei pressed Zeno’s bald little head onto his chest and coldly ordered, “Do not smile.”
Zeno was amused by his protagonist, but since Xi Wei did not want him to smile—he would not smile.
With that burst of pain and fear in the past, Zeno felt much better, and his face was not so pale anymore. Now it was Xiao Wu’s turn to feel depressed; was 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 leaned 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 smiled. When they were in a good mood—people were so generous.
“Boy, bring that little guy and come with me,” he said, pushing Xiao Wu along in front of him. He took the lead with the expectation that Xi Wei would follow.
Xi Wei bowed his head quietly and followed along two steps behind, as was his habit. Zeno was 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 was not sure why.
Xi Wei’s mood was very heavy. He had always been very calm, but also firmly believed that no matter what happened, if you started trouble then you were only looking for death. Only the calm and clear-minded had a greater assurance at life, but his existence was at the ignored and invisible bottom class of society. This automatically made 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 wandered around Fenhong Street. As a veteran trafficker, Xi Lun had some unsavoury means at his disposal to buy and sell flesh, but rarely had to use them. Bob, on the other hand, was the type that had to rely on purely underhanded methods to maintain his livelihood; even in the underworld his heart was blacker than most.
This type of person should have been extremely selfish and cunning. However, when the scar-faced man brought Xi Wei to see this man—he could only see an utter lunatic.
His consciousness was clearly not all there; all of the sudden he giggled, then the next minute he was crying.
He had a brutal wound that spanned his entire face. It was so gruesome that it was difficult to look at, and the rumours all said that it was completely self-inflicted.
Xi Lun explained that Bob was nothing like this before, and the reason his behaviour was so different was because of a psychological attack.
Thinking of the meaning behind these words, Xi Wei’s hands trembled slightly; his black hair covered his eyes and his expression. The scar-faced man also explained to him that those called magicians employed this type of mental attack. It was an intangible method of attack, and as long as the attack hit its target properly, they could 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 allowed 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 replied 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, did not understand that his fate was once again in question. Soon, they entered a strange black house located in a dingy side street.
Saying it was black inside was not quite right, in fact, it was 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 was a skinny man, dressed in a black, hooded cloak, which only exposed a pair of muddy little eccentric eyes. When he saw them enter, he did not even bat an eye.
Carelessly slapping the eccentric man on the back as he sat at a table in the room, Xi Lun jovially spoke, “Old man, see who I’ve brought with me!”
The strange man finally lifted his cloudy eyes, swept them over Zeno and Xi Wei, and then opened his mouth and issued forth in a hoarse voice, “Xi Lun, did I not say that unless your Fenhong Street was about to be demolished, that you were not to bother me?”
Xi Lun continued without a care, “That’s because you do not know what I brought.”
The old man gave 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 seemed to hear something of interest, once again looking at the two strange children, “Which one?”
While Zeno looked back and forth with puzzled eyes, Xi Wei quietly raised the smaller one up in front of him.
The man’s small, eccentric eyes narrowed, and he reached his skinny fingers out to grasp Zeno’s small head, holding on for quite some time. Zeno was terrified.
Xi Lun stroked 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 touched his eyes and flashed a fanatical glow, muttering ‘good’ over and over under his breath and then took out a fist-sized crystal ball. He pulled Zeno’s little hand up to touch it, and the crystal ball immediately became more colourful and brighter.
The odd man finally stood up, excited, “Such a small child has such a high amount of magical power. Simply a genius!”
Xi Wei cautiously pulled 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 stood quietly, expressing his rejection with silence.
Gray, as if expecting this from the start, added, “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 with1?”
Xi Wei remained silent, unmoved by these enormous temptations.
Xi Lun watched the fun, then commented, “Boy, say something ah, this village would not miss someone who goes into this shop.”
Zeno tightly gripped his protagonist’s sleeves, crying nervously, “Baba!” He did not want to leave Xi Wei to train with the strange old man. If he walked away, who would 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 wanted the mainland to still exist ah!
Besides, except for Xi Wei, he did not want to be with anyone else.
Xi Wei dragged him close, as if finally remembering the current situation, and coldly replied, “I do not need money.”
Zeno finally had peace of mind.
Magician Gray was apparently a little surprised, but he was not put out at all. In fact, he once again let loose a huge bomb, “Boy, do you know how dangerous it is to be a self-awakened magician? One’s magical 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 mental attacks on any nearby people, and those attacks cannot be blocked without magical means.”
Xi Lun went 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 seemed 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 may someday become 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!
- 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. ↩