“The junior mercenary badge1.” After he unconsciously lets it slip, Zeno quickly covers his mouth and sneaks a glance at Xi Wei. Fortunately, the protagonist seems to be caught up in his thoughts and does not notice the little one’s slip of the tongue.
The mercenary badges are very easy to identify. The junior badge is gold, the intermediate badge is silver, and the senior badge is purple. The design for all three is the same; two swords with their handles crossed.
Naturally, this badge cannot be from Xiao Wu. A ten-year-old girl would never be able to acquire this type of thing, so it seems that Xi Lun must be the one who got it.
The Mercenary Guild is the largest guild on the Hong Yue continent, and it is an organization that welcomes all. As long as they want, anyone can join—of course, they are required to pay one gold coin.
Xi Wei often hears of this guild thing, and he often passes by the Ye Sa City branch, but the threshold requirement of a single gold coin easily shuts out beggars like Xi Wei.
If you can become a mercenary, it is the equivalent of having a part-time job. At least you do not need to worry about being hungry every day—this is indeed a very exciting opportunity.
But why would Xi Lun help them? Is there truly any free kindness in this world?
Xi Wei hesitates, unsure of whether he should trust that strange man.
Zeno is actually very hopeful that the protagonist will accept the job. As a mercenary, he can improve their current situation; they can rely on his labour through the guild to earn money for food. No more digging through the trash to survive.
The Mercenary Guild has a variety of tasks. They start off small, like finding a missing cat; and go all the way up to the most extreme challenges like fighting a dragon. There is a suitable task for every member, regardless of level.
Xi Wei comes out of the boat’s cabin with his box. If he wants, he just needs to loosen his hand and the junior mercenary badge will fall into the water, and with only a small splash, he can treat this matter as if had never occurred.
Zeno follows him out, a hand gripping the protagonist’s pant leg, trying to pull him back.
The small amount of strength that Zeno has pulling against Xi Wei’s leg is insignificant, but he still successfully stops Xi Wei. The protagonist looks down to see the solicitous smile of the bright little boy; his small mouth is still filled with sugar, and his cheeks bulge out, while he cocks his head to the side, looking up.
Xi Wei finds himself unable to loosen his fingers. At last, he seems to compromise, keeping the badge, and then bends over to pick up Zeno before walking out.
Mercenary guild members come and go very in a lively manner. Most of the people are very rough, dressed in coarse clothing, but they have enough to cause beggars to be jealous.
Xi Wei silently stands near the front door of the Mercenary Guild, and he refuses to take a single step further. To the average person, these are merely a few steps that need to be taken. To Xi Wei, this is the path to another life. No matter how precocious a child is, they will still feel unease and fear; it is human nature.
The protagonist has not yet grown to the level where he bears malicious thoughts towards all living things, so he will naturally hesitate to step outside what is normal. However, Zeno is pleased with this. Although the cold protagonist is also very meng—it is obviously a lot easier to get along with him as he is now. Zeno wants Xi Wei to live as a man, not alone as a god.
From their position, they are actually able to roughly see inside the Mercenary Guild hall. There is a large counter similar to what you might find in a bank that is divided into three different sections, there are many tables in the middle of the hall, and sitting at the tables are a bunch of warriors. Although the majority are men, there are even some strong-bodied women, and all of them are engaged in lively discussions.
Zeno pulls on Xi Wei’s collar in order to pull him out of his state of contemplation.
At last, Xi Wei lifts his foot to step through the attractive front door that is completely incompatible with his tattered and filthy clothes.
“Charles, when are you going to turn in your mission report?” Nami, a tall, beautiful woman asks as she slaps her hand on the table directly in front of Charles’ face, scaring him half sober.
Charles attempts to placate her with a smile, rubbing his hands together as he bargains, “Oh, my lovely Nami, you are even more beautiful today than yesterday. As for that damn report, can’t you just help me write it, and if not, can you let me bring it in two days late?”
Nami’s gorgeous face shows a smile, and Charles does not even have time to be happy when the beauty lifts one of her slender legs and knocks him aggressively to the ground, followed quickly by the stool he was sitting on, “Charles, I warned you that your report has been due for a week, if you do not hand it in then there will be a deduction from your contribution points.”
Charles perks up all of a sudden, and nearly screams, “Wait, wait, I’ll turn it in tomorrow, tomorrow I will!”
Suddenly laughter rings out from the lobby; apparently this is not the first time this has occurred.
Nami grunts and claps her hands before going back behind one of the counters and sitting down.
Soon after she sits down, a dirty little hand raises a gold mercenary badge in front of Nami’s face, and then lightly places it on the table before shrinking back.
Nami is surprised for a moment. The counters in the Mercenary Guild are very high; they probably reach around chest height on an average adult man. She stands up and sees that there is a child who appears to be around ten years old standing in front of her. He is wearing little more than tattered rags, his body is very thin, and his short black hair covers his eyes so that his face is difficult to see. Surprisingly, such a small child is actually holding a smaller child in his arms as well.
The little one is a little funny looking. He2 is very cute, his head is shaved bald, he is wearing a shirt that looks like it is actually half of a dress—the child is neither fish nor fowl3.
Nami stands dazed for a moment before she remembers her responsibilities, and she asks, “What would you like?”
Xi Wei’s answer is very simple, “To be a mercenary.”
Nami’s gorgeous face twists with confusion before she hesitatingly twirls the badge on the counter and takes a closer look at it, as if to ascertain whether or not it is real. At this point, she sits down and starts registering Xi Wei’s information, “Number 1008610010, what is your name?”
The little beggar bows his head; what is it, what is his name? He had not thought of his name for so long, but he finally retrieves it from the depths of his memory, and after a moment of hesitation says, “Xi Wei.”
Nami cannot see his expression across the counter, and praises him after she writes his name, “Xi Wei, it is the name of an elven tree, really a good name—can you sign it for me?”
Xi Wei shakes his head, and then remembers that the woman behind the counter cannot see him, so he speaks, “I can’t write.”
Apparently he did not give an unexpected answer to this question, so Nami only nods and stands up and hands him the registration form, pointing to the lower right corner of the page. “Just make a fingerprint on the line here.”
Xi Wei is very slow to move.
Nami, puzzled, urges Xi Wei, “Hurry up, I am very busy.”
The young beggar clenches his teeth, staring at the piece of paper in front of him as if it is not a registration form, but a slave contract.
Xi Wei even has the urge to flee immediately. However, the hunger in his belly and the ‘burden’ in his arms keeps him from doing so. He adjusts his hold on the child, bites his finger, and presses it down heavily on the snowy registration form.
Nami awkwardly holds an inkpad in her hands as she watches.
Until the unusual registration form is returned, Nami works to regain her composure, looking at Xi Wei strangely for half a day, until she finally receives the form.
Nami turns around and gathers her long, wavy brown hair, throwing Xi Wei a coquettish look, “What is the matter, you handsome young boy?
She is purely ridiculing the boy, and has no intention of seducing him in any way. Xi Wei feels it, and only stiffly says, “The task.”
Nami is actually surprised, “You just finished registration and you already want a task?”
Xi Wei does not answer, so Zeno repeats for him, “Task.”
The little one wears such a serious expression that Nami cannot help but cover her mouth and giggle, and then she begins to look up a task.
Zeno is actually a bit nervous. Originally, in accordance with the “Curse” plotline, Xi Wei should already be at the age of 16 when, by chance, he uses another person’s identity and badge to enter the Mercenary Guild. Now though, because of the coincidence of meeting the scar-faced man and Xiao Wu, things have taken an unexpected turn.
He did not know how much impact such a change would have.
In some ways, it is a good thing. If Xi Wei’s life trajectory changes from now on, his future development will be on a new path.
All sorts of dubious plans begin to develop in Zeno’s brain, and this fills him with excitement—he cannot help make small fists as his excitement grows.
Taking advantage of the time Nami is taking to look for a task, Charles walks over to Xi Wei to chat, “Hey, you a newcomer? Are you interested in joining us, the Wind Wolf Corps?”
Before Xi Wei could even answer, a folder hits Charles’s head. Charles, holding his head, begs for mercy, “Oh, dear Nami, can’t you be more gentle, the commander said that I am getting more and more stupid.”
Nami puts her hands on her hips, “Troublemaker, you must be here to submit your mission report.”
As soon as Charles hears her mention the mission report, he makes an embarrassed gesture and avoids eye contact.
Nami glares at Charles, and then bends over to hand the folder over to Xi Wei, “Little guy, I think that since you are young, adventure missions are too much for you to handle. There is a long-term task to help a cat bath every week. The cat’s Master’s eyes are not very good, so he needs to hire someone else to do it for him; will this suffice for you?”
Xi Wei nods; for him, there is not much choice. Not to mention, bathing a cat should not be too difficult after all, no?
Seeing him agree, Nami hands him a note, “Little handsome guy, I know that you can’t read. First I’ll tell you the address. Your employers live in Luo Fu Street, No. 72—the address is written on the note. If you cannot find it take the note to someone to ask them the way.”
Xi Wei turns his cold eyes towards the charming woman, takes the note, and then asks, “What do you want me to help you do?”
Nami is surprised, “What to do? I do not need you to do anything for me. You just have to complete the task as described and then afterwards be sure to submit a mission report.” Having said that, she pats Xi Wei’s shoulder.
Xi Wei stiffens; the moment the woman patted his shoulder, he actually could not escape.
After Xi Wei left, Charles stamps his feet again, “Nami, what’s so special about this kid that he’s worth your care?”
Nami sneers, “Mr. Xi Lun helped that boy apply for that badge personally—is that special enough for you? Don’t try to mess with him, he’s not someone we can provoke.”
Charles suddenly realizes the gravity of the situation, and scratches his head—fortunately he had not gone crazy a moment ago.
After leaving the Mercenary Guild, Xi Wei heads straight to Luo Fu Street. Luo Fu Street is located right by the water; it is only a row of houses by the river so the environment is clean and tidy. There is a difference of heaven and earth from the rented room that Xi Wei grew up in as a small child.
It is actually quite easy to find the address. Even if Xi Wei is illiterate, the writing on the note is very clear, so all he has to do is compare it to the addresses on the homes one by one until he finds a match.
The employer lives in a detached home with a small courtyard. The house is very lonesome and quiet—it feels out of place in Ye Sa City.
Xi Wei stands at the door, carefully confirms that the address is not wrong, and then lifts his hand to knock on the door. The door opens slowly, and after a long wait the voice of a youth comes out, “Are you here to give the cat a bath?”
Xi Wei bows his head down and answers, “Yes, sir, that is the task I received from the mercenary guild.”
The door squeaks as it opens. A shy teenager stands in the doorway, his eyes vacant and without focus. He is a little embarrassed while he says, “Sorry, my eyes are not very good so I’m quite slow.”
Of course, Xi Wei does not care even if this young man is deliberately making things difficult. Even if this is the case, this type of obstacle is trivial.
The youth soon led them into the house. Zeno takes a look around, but does not see the cat that is supposed to be precious as gold, and cannot figure out where it is.
The young man grabs a walking stick and taps it along the ground to find his seat, then fumbles his way to sit in the chair and says, embarrassed, “Qiqi is out playing but will probably come back later, you can just sit for a while.”
Xi Wei nods and places Zeno on the ground, and Zeno looks at the youth’s vacant eyes. His heart is sad; he never thought that one day he would lose his own eyesight. Although there have been protagonists who have gone blind, they are always certain to be cured. But, even for a short period of time, it is not a pleasant experience.
Zeno unconsciously covers his right eye and walks a few steps. Sure enough, because of his lack depth perception and sense of direction, he hits the table leg.
The youth is astonished and asks, “Can’t you see?”
Fun fact: MTL from one website translated dragon as masiakasaurus hahahahahahaha. I low-key wanted to put that in, but it doesn’t really flow nicely. Well, also, it makes no sense.
- Initially I put primary, as it could be interpreted as either junior or primary, but after seeing the progression of levels and getting some opinions, I’m changing it to junior. I’ll change it in Chapter 17 as well.
- It doesn’t necessarily indicate gender here but it’s awkward to write without, so she may not know he’s a boy.
- This saying means not one or the other, so possibly saying that Zeno’s gender is ambiguous?