Zeno begins growing nervous. Some familiar elements from a plot line in “Curse” are beginning to emerge. After his powers developed in the novel, there was a story about Xi Wei as a mercenary. He was on a mission to investigate a village where, for no reason, many citizens were going insane without any determinable cause. Xi Wei’s mercenary squad was almost annihilated, but the protagonist escaped due to the protection of the ring he wore. Not only was he able to escape, but he also found an extremely talented young girl.
As for what happened between the young lady and the protagonist after that event, that is something to be discussed later. The main point is that the self-proclaimed dark magician, Gray, is not deceiving Xi Wei—what he is saying is true.
Even though he has gained his own gold finger in the form of incredibly powerful mental power1, Zeno does not feel happy if the price of having this gold finger is being separated from the protagonist. Rather, he feels an inexplicable sense of loss.
Yes, the protagonist has his ring, and so he does not have to worry about being affected by Zeno’s mental power, but only Zeno knows this—and he cannot just tell anyone. Since he cannot tell, Xi Wei has no way of knowing he is protected.
For Xi Wei, this is a life-or-death decision, not just a casual choice to make.
But if they are separated for a few years, will the protagonist give Zeno the same trust and kindness when they reunite as when he was a child?
As he grows older, Xi Wei will eventually become more and more indifferent. He will continue to build walls around his heart, and ultimately, he will destroy himself and everything along with him.
Gray does not urge him, but instead continues to fiddle with his pile of strange gadgets, looking very confident.
Xi Wei bows his head and silently ponders, his eyes falling onto the cracked and worn straw sandals that barely manage to cling to his feet at this point. He does not know what is causing him to hesitate. Although Gray looks weird, there is no question that he is indeed very formidable. That type of indescribable gulf is an entire world apart from a small beggar such as Xi Wei.
If Zeno goes with Gray, not only can he live as a noble, he will not have to work himself to death, or worry about which cold and icy lane he will starve to death in next winter, or whether the tattered little wooden boat will make it through another seasons.
There is no need to ask why Grey would not bring Xi Wei with him. Xi Wei, who grew up in Ye Sa City, knows very well that while a Noble may be willing to take in a gifted child, no such allowances would be made for an ordinary beggar.
Xi Wei slowly exhales and lifts his face, his eyes clear and once again indifferent.
Xi Lun, who has been watching him to see if he thinks it over well, asks Xi Wei, “Boy, did you think about it? How many crystal coins would you like? I will tell you right now that a top talent wizard is worth more than you can imagine, so think of the highest value possible. To tell you the truth, Gray does not wish to separate the two of you, but it can’t be helped since the place they’re going after is not suitable for you.”
Xi Wei closes his eyes and thinks of the snowy night that he picked up Zeno. His mother’s words still rang clearly in his ears. If the enemy had not been too powerful, and the woman had not been so desperate, what loving mother would hand her child to a small beggar who can guarantee neither safety nor stability?
If Zeno is allowed to return back to the aristocratic world, then while he may be able to become a so-called magician, his mother’s enemies may also find him. He could avoid death if he was lucky, but Xi Wei never believes in luck.
“I don’t want money.” Xi Wei repeats the same words.
“I will not go crazy either,” He answers, clear and full of confidence.
Neither Xi Lun nor Gray speak for half a day; neither of them expected that Xi Wei would reject the huge benefits offered to him, and choose the troublesome path instead.
Xi Lun cannot not help asking, “Boy, are you already crazy now? Do you know the consequences? Do you see that drunk Bob? Do you want to blow up the front of your head like that?”
Xi Lun suddenly fires out four questions, showcasing his agitated mood.
Xi Wei is not scared by his intimidation. Although the protagonist can only look up at Xi Lun now, but his imposing manner at this moment does not lose to the adults around him. With the clear articulation of his words, there is no hesitation in his intentions.
“If it is dangerous, I’ll kill him.”
Xi Lun chokes, and he is suddenly unable to find any words to describe the feeling of this moment. Xi Wei’s eyes are neither vicious nor hostile. He is actually too calm, as if discussing a way to keep the rain off of his clothes, instead of talking about killing his own child. But, Xi Lun can no longer bring himself to argue.
Gray chuckles and makes a strange smile, “Kid, your character really suits my tastes, but you have too little magic talent, or I’d rather favour someone like you, such a good little seedling ah. Since you do not want to give this child to me to nurture, you will need to be responsible for his future. There are many places on the mainland where you can learn magic, but only the Prault Institute2 and the Temple have suitable teachers for him.”
Without waiting for a response from Xi Wei, Xi Lun adds to Gray’s words, “Boy you have to think clearly, Prault Institute’s entrance fee is 10 crystal coins, and the temple only receives Dark Knight. For you, neither of these things are possible.”
Xi Wei does not say a word, turns away to leave, and answers any lingering questions with his actions.
Xi Lun, depressed, touches his nose, wanting to see if there is any ash on it3.
Shortly after, another door in Gray’s house, piled high with bizarre magic supplies, opens and Xiao Wu finally comes out. She takes a look at the situation, and wonders aloud, “Baba, the bigger boy and the little one aren’t here?”
Xi Lun answers softly, “They went back.”
Xiao Wu does not seem to care about it, giving only a cursory “oh” in answer. She runs over quickly and holds something in front of Gray, asking curiously, “Grandpa Gray, what is this?”
Gray to helps her smooth her braid, and his withered smile blooms like a flower, “Looks good, Xiao Wu can take it to play if you like.”
Xiao Wu cheers, and then continues on her treasure hunt again. Zeno, at this time, is experiencing some serious heart palpitations—his protagonist terrifies him.
Recently, Xi Wei had treated him too warmly, and the reader almost forgot the indifferent nature of the protagonist. Despite that, he does not actually feel resentment towards what he said? Zeno ponders, those recent headaches must have broken his brain somehow.
Zeno, naturally, is not worried about their own lives, the gold finger in the body of the protagonist means that he is immune to the mental attacks. Even the Prault Institute is a possible destination of the future for the protagonist. The main inconvenience, in the end, is that he still cannot see from his left eye.
Due to his knowledge from the novel, Zeno is aware that his headaches are because of the awakening of his mental powers. According to “Curse”, proper rest is enough to restore his health, but he never read that it could also lead to blindness ah!
The girl in the original novel with mental powers was also afflicted with the same symptoms, in addition to driving lot of people insane. But she did not get turned into Cyclops, this is just plain unscientific!
The plot is truly a cruel mistress, just because he is a man Zeno has such different treatment; I’ll leave a bad comment!
Despite thinking about it, Zeno never considers telling Xi Wei. Xi Wei could not even deal with a fever, not to mention blindness—this is a ‘serious illness’.
Back from Fenhong Street, nothing happened for the next two months. Zeno feels many times in his heart that this confirmed that because of the refining by, and protection from, the ring—the danger has passed. Since nothing happened, and there were no immediate concerns, it seems that the alarm could be lifted temporarily.
So this should be around the time that we skip to four years later right? However, this is not a book any more. This is Zeno’s real life.
Ah, following the protagonist really is a “eat husks and weeds” type of life. In his past life, a girl from the same orphanage as Zeno said something that always stuck with him, “If you can find the one you really love, you’ll stay together even if you have nothing to eat but bran and veggies.”
Whether the girl eventually had to eat this type of meal with one she loved, Zeno does not know, but he is certain that he is absolutely the true love of the protagonist ah4!
However, true love still has to eat.
Ye Sa City has a high population of beggars, and every day new people join their ranks by becoming homeless in some way. Trash is not suitable for scavenging like in the winter. The heartleaf along the river still grows, but Xi Wei still has to walk farther and farther each day, and the amount of food is also stretched more and more thinly.
Hungry ~ Hungry ~
Zeno is so hungry he cannot stand; he just wants to bury himself in bed, trying to pass his time spent hungry while sleeping. He does not want to go with Xi Wei to gather food, because he knows; the protagonist is hungrier than him.
Then, Xiao Wu pinching his little nose awakens Zeno; his eyes whip open, framed by his flushing features.
Xiao Wu smiles and places a gummy candy into his mouth, the sweet taste stopping the protests of Zeno’s stomach.
Zeno keeps the sweets in his mouth, and attempts to speak around them, “Jiejie.5”
Xiao Wu kneels on the floor with one hand by Zeno’s knees, and the other hand petting his little bald head. At first she was very opposed to the little one’s shaved hair, but with some time found that this little one without hair also has a cute charm. Not only that, but she also likes the feeling of touching that cute, bald little head.
Zeno’s protests are invalid, and he has to tearfully accept this reality. As for Hua Li? His small, hairless head became the permanent residence of the Elven Queen.
Zeno heard that today there is a troubadour famous across the mainland passing through. Xiao Wu has been excited about it for days, how does she have the time to be wasting here?
Sure enough, Xiao Wu quickly explains, “Little one, I am just here to deliver something while I wait to go watch the telling of the legendary story. Your baba refused to take you out so I have no choice, do remember to give it to him, will you?”
After she finishes speaking, she passes a small wooden box to Zeno and indicates that its contents are for Xi Wei.
Zeno quickly understands, Xiao Wu is not actually interested in looking at the protagonist, nor is she willing to get to know Xi Wei. In fact, she always treats him as an invisible person—this time by refusing to hand the box over with her own hands. Once again, Xiao Wu confirms that she really will not come to like the protagonist, and Zeno cries.
Xiao Wu drops off a bag of candies and then leaves. His hunger leads Zeno to quickly eat two, and then he takes a look at the remaining two. His protagonist has not eaten, and Zeno is distressed wondering how he will convince him to eat the candy.
Xi Wei never touches the small snacks Xiao Wu gives them. No matter which way Zeno rolls to sell meng, he does not eat what he says he will not eat. Once his own protagonist stares at him long enough with those unemotional eyes, Zeno will eventually silently retreat.
However, an empty sack cannot stand upright6, he really needs to eat ah.
Today, looking at the candy in his hand, Zeno gets ready to take measures into his own hands. A few days ago, he remembered when Xi Wei had first fed him by softening his food for him, and a flash of inspiration hit—that should be feasible. As for his moral integrity, Xi Wei could starve to death, was he going to eat this moral integrity?
So he grips a candy carefully in his mouth, and cautiously climbs Xi Wei’s leg, taking advantage of the fact that the protagonist does not understand what he wants to do. When he reaches his lap, he puts his mouth directly over the other’s to push the candy over.
Perhaps it is too surprising, and things are happening too suddenly, but Xi Wei actually allows the candy into his mouth.
Zeno smiles, “Sweet.”
Xi Wei blankly stretches his arm out to pick up Zeno, holding him to the side, and opens the box brought by Xiao Wu. Nestled inside is a gold badge, which bears a simple pattern of crossed swords.
Zeno glances, mouth wide open, and then mutters, “The junior mercenary badge.”
There were a lot of notes for this chapter.
- In the last chapter I was calling this spiritual power, because that’s what it was most often translating as, but after thinking it over, I think mental power actually makes more sense. I will be calling it that from now on, and once I’ve published this I will go back and changed it in Chapter 16. If I remember.
- In some translations this came up as ‘proletariat’ college. Proletariat basically means for the common man. I’m not sure if there’s any deeper meaning to this name.
- This probably means something, like he got burned. I dunno, I didn’t feel like looking it up
- So from what I could gather from the context/opinions of others, this is not a serious confession, but more of a—if this is what the girl said, that’s definitely what’s here. In any case, I can’t say how much of this he means, although we do know that Xi Wei is number one in his heart.
- This should be mispronounced. Just imagine saying it with a mouth full of food I guess.
- One can’t function on an empty stomach