“Can’t you see?” The youth speaks in a way that seems unintentional. When Zeno hears those words he feels a burst of guilty conscience. However, he still quickly covers his left eye as well, and then takes two steps, pretending that he cannot see at all. After this, he continues to deliberately knock into the table legs, and then sits on the ground in pain, rubbing his forehead.
Xi Wei turns a blind eye to his selling meng; he is just thinking seriously about how to bathe the cat.
The youth did not receive an answer, so he is somewhat at a loss. He extends a hand towards Zeno, bending over slightly to help up the child on the ground. Zeno crawls up to seize the warm fingers of the young man, using them to pull himself up.
The youth asks again, “Can you not see?”
Zeno guiltily looks at Xi Wei with his right eye1, and then, in the right and self-confident2, he speaks one sentence, “Gege3, you are really nice looking.”
The youth gawks for a second, and then apologizes, “I’m sorry, I thought you bumped into it because you couldn’t see things like me. When I was a child, I often walked into furniture and things like that.”
It is said that the other senses of blind people become very keen—these words are true. The youth has only a few clues about the general situation; if you give him eight he will guess nine and ten.
Zeno thinks that this is true nobility: humble, courteous, and open-minded.
However, how could such a person live in Ye Sa City?
This city is such a chaotic place—any person of means would not be willing to stay here. But since they are here to bathe the cat, it is not right to pry into their employer’s private life. Zeno can only swallow down his curiosity.
Xi Wei is an uncommunicative person, and the young man does not have an outgoing and talkative personality. Zeno is too young to talk too much. For a time, the house is quiet.
Fortunately, not long after, the quiet is interrupted by a ‘meow’, and a white shadow quickly and gracefully leaps onto the shoulders of the youth, who smiles happily. He reaches up to caress the small animal on his shoulder, gently rubbing the fur along its back, and speaks in a way that reveals he must really spoil this cat, “Qiqi, I’ve said many times not to go out alone, what would I do if someone captured you?”
The white cat meows twice and licks the young man’s cheeks with his moist tongue, all while flicking his tail in a pleased manner. It seems the cat knows just how much he is loved.
The youth helplessly shakes his head, then grabs the cat by the scruff of his neck and passes him over to Xi Wei, asking, “Sorry to trouble you, but please help Qiqi, this naughty bundle, take a bath.”
Xi Wei solemnly intends to take over in order to start his first job. However, who could know that as soon as that cat heard the word ‘bath’ he would break from the young man, appearing in the blink of an eye a safe distance away from the boys. Their thin employer simply cannot hold him back, and his eyes cannot see, so he can only stand in place awkwardly.
Zeno’s little body is not of much help in this situation, so shutting the door should be more than enough. Xi Wei and the young man seem to have an optimistic attitude about bathing the cat; Zeno can see through this creature’s bad attitude at a glance. Zeno just walks to the door, and soon a crisp “click” sounds as the door latches—the cat war has begun.
“Qiqi, Qiqi you come out okay? Be good,” called the youth gently.
Zeno walks back and forth between the tables and chairs, using his small size to his advantage. In the struggle to capture the delinquent white cat, it is time to show his techniques!
It does not matter if this task is dignified; it is an iron rice bowl for he and the protagonist!
Zeno’s eyes are completely filled with dollar signs at this point. He was initially worried about getting his clothing dirty, but fortunately the employer is a rich man, so the house has wooden floors.
Xi Wei is also very busy, trying his best to seize Qiqi, but the cat is intuitively cunning, leaping and dodging all of their attempts with its small and flexible build. The three boys are tired to death, but they can still only manage to grasp a few hairs.
The golden haired youth has a face full of exasperation, and earnestly apologizes to Xi Wei, “Sorry, my Qiqi is really naughty. I’m one of the few who can hold it, except that I can seldom catch it in these cases. However, even if it is wishful thinking, I had really wanted Qiqi to bathe.”
Zeno finally stops being so useless, and crawls out from under the table. He removes a white hair from his little bald head, and stands in front of his employer, “Sir, did Qiqi eat?”
The white cat seems to have a premonition of the sinister plans being carried out by Zeno. The cat meows loudly, all of its fur stands on end, and it perches on a chair, baring its teeth at Zeno.
Zeno smiles proudly; he cannot keep up this game of tag they are all playing.
Their employer suddenly realizes what he is hinting at, and with a happy expression he says in an exaggerated voice, “Qiqi, if you do not take a bath today, then at dinner I will have to give this little brother your fish to eat.”
Qiqi reluctantly jumps twice to come over, meowing angrily.
The blonde youth reaches for Qiqi, scratches his chin, and then looks, unfocused, towards Xi Wei, “Come with me.”
Xi Wei is not a curious person, but at this moment the situation has moved beyond his cognition. In his mind, cats are as dirty as the little beggars, with their green eyes glowing in the night, chasing mice and rummaging through the garbage. That some people would raise them as pets, and then pay others to bathe them, was already a surprise. However, that this cat could actually understand their speech is actually a bit frightening!
“The cat can understand?”
When he hears Xi Wei’s question, the blond youth freezes, stunned, “Ah, although Qiqi looks like a cat, it actually has unicorn blood. It’s not a normal cat, so it knows what I am saying.”
Xi Wei does not ask any more questions, and he vaguely feels that this world seems to be exceeding his understanding of what he knows from the more than a dozen years behind him. As to what these changes mean for him, he cannot tell.
Zeno walks up and pulls on his pant legs. Xi Wei does not hold him all the time, but when they go out, he will do so to prevent him from being lost. If his protagonist is gone to whom can he cry? Who can compensate him with another Xi Wei, exactly the same?
Over time, it has become a habit.
The treatment Qiqi receives is indeed enough for 90% of the people living in Ye Sa City to be jealous. Hungry and cranky, Zeno accidentally hits Xi Wei’s legs because he did not notice that the protagonist had stopped walking.
The room they ender is actually dedicated to bathing and grooming cats, and it is very well equipped. There is a small bathtub, hairbrushes, and combs—everything you might need. The young man drops the unhappy white cat into the empty tub, and then begins directing Xi Wei on what to do.
Xi Wei maintains total silence as he completes the task, following the youth’s instructions meticulously. That includes where to find hot or cold water, how to achieve a moderate water temperature, and how to lightly sprinkle the water on the white cat without splashing it—the list goes on.
The whole process is an eye-opener for Zeno; bathing is actually so stressful for cats. Before coming they thought this task was probably relatively simple, but they really did not understand.
Zeno is on one side, helping hold down the cat. Since it is summer, the two boys’ faces are all sweaty. The cat is struggling, and splashes a lot of water outside the bath, so of course, Zeno and Xi Wei’s clothes are wet.
Once Qiqi is finally clean and bundled up in a towel, he is handed to his master with great difficuly. Zeno leans forward, panting, with his tongue out. It is good that Xi Wei often has to bath Zeno—he has a little experience, so he is not left too embarrassed.
According to Nami, the remuneration for every bath is ten copper coins. Zeno uses his fingers to calculate; well, for about two days they will not have to go hungry.
The blonde teenager’s face bears a playful expression. He holds a towel gently in his hand, using it to help wipe Qiqi’s wet fur. After that he gropes around until he finds a comb, and then gets ready to comb out Qiqi’s fur.
Zeno tries to use his tiny hand as a fan to cool himself, but finds that his hand is too small to properly play that role. He wipes the sweat off his face, and then quickly moves to tidy up the bath area with his protagonist. He stands on his tiptoes, reaching up to wipe Xi Wei as well.
Xi Wei’s hands pause, but his expressionless face shows no change.
When the cleaning is complete, their employer opens his mouth again, “The reward decided on with the Mercenary Guild is ten copper coins, but that is the basic reward. You’ve helped me a lot, and I can’t let you go back when you’ve had such trouble made for you by Qiqi. There is another bathroom next door, and you could take a bath in there.”
The blonde paused, then bashfully explained, “Unfortunately, I did not expect that there would be two mercenaries, so I’ll have to inconvenience you two, and have you wash up together.”
However, it is fine with Zeno, since he is small enough to allow for the two boys to fit easily. The biggest difference is that this time it was not just the little one, but the two of them would wash up together.
Xi Wei starts running the hot water until he is happy with the water temperature, and then helps Zeno get undressed. Zeno obediently allows the protagonist to undress him and lift him into the tub. In the beginning, he was uncomfortable with the fact that that someone would have to help him if he wanted to bathe, but the more times it happens, the more he gets used to it.
However, this is the first time he will get to take a bath with Xi Wei. Zeno is filled with excitement over the fact that he will be so close to his idol.
Xi Wei almost looks emaciated, but due to his high amounts of exercise, coupled with the transformation wrought on his body by the ring, he is a far cry from the weak beggar he once was. Taking three hits is no longer a problem, but fighting is a waste of energy. Since he often cannot eat, Xi Wei never bothers to do it.
Zeno silently gives his protagonist a silent thumbs-up.
Xi Wei hangs their semi-wet clothes on the windowsill; the summer sun is blazing hot and will quickly dry them.
Xi Wei first grabs Zeno and scrubs him clean from head to foot, and then proceeds to wash himself.
Zeno yawns and squints from his one eye towards Xi Wei; his shoulders have not yet broadened, but they are still covered with many scars—big and small. Zeno thinks of scars as a man’s badge of honour; not to mention he is also handsome, which is also noticeable when he sleeps. When they finish bathing, the boys climb out of the tub, dry themselves, and get dressed.
“Here is your payment,” the youth says as he hands Xi Wei a small bag.
“I don’t want it,” answers Xi Wei in a low, cold voice.
“Why?” Asks the young man, very surprised.
Xi Wei says, “We do not want money.”
Zeno rubs his eyes, grabs Xi Wei’s neck out of habit, and twists his face to look at their employer.
The employer has a wry smile, “I am fully prepared to pay the full amount,” he sighs, “What do you want?”
Xi Wei looks at the cat that is full of hostility, adjusts Zeno within his arms, and says with a lowered head, “Fish steak.”
The youth is lost for a moment before Xi Wei’s words sink in. When they do, his face breaks into a huge smile, he even has a shallow dimple, and then he nods.
Before he walks out, the blond asks, “Was it Xi Wei? My name is Xia An, if you wish, would you like to be friends?”
Xi Wei does not answer.
Xia An ‘watches’5 them from the threshold as they walk away, and murmurs, “Xi Lun, you did not lie to me, thank you.”
Zeno, who is shocked by the name ‘Xia An’, is feeling out of sorts. Whenever he forgets about the existence of the plot, the plot jumps out of the bushes at him.
Xia An? That is the name of the first little boss6 taken down by the protagonist. He cannot write it off as only a coincidence, because that clever little boss is also blind.
The only questionable point is that the boss from “Curse” is cruel and merciless, while the teenager named Xia An seems peaceful and happy. The two entities seem to be from totally different dimensions!
What happens in the next few years that causes Xia An’s temperament to change to such an extreme?
Xi Wei is accustomed to Zeno slipping into his trance-like state. The deepening colour of the sky indicates that it is growing late, so he accelerates his steps as he makes his way back to the mercenary guild.
Nami has been waiting for them, even moving to the hall from behind the counter to wait. When she sees them come in, she walks over leisurely, “So the young handsome little guy has came back, was the task completed?”
Xi Wei nods.
Nami motions towards the counter, “Then, quickly hand over the task list.”
This chapter…somehow ended up with 3 footnotes…in one sentence…have mercy on my soul.
Also, kind of a fun cat chapter. So I figured I better have a pic of a kitty. And Zeno is just a cute lil fanboy!
- I extra double checked, but it says right eye, despite that being the one that he can’t see from.
- 理直气壮 – an idiom that means one is bold and confident with justice on one’s side/to have the courage of one’s convictions
- Gege – older brother (male equivalent of jiejie)
- Iron Rice Bowl – means secure employment
- I am pretty sure this doesn’t mean he can actually see, but he is just facing the direction they are leaving in.
- The word boss is always in English